Wichita school district to propose closing Metro-Midtown

WICHITA — Metro-Midtown Alternative High School would close for good at the end of this school year, according to a proposal being submitted to the Wichita school board next month.

District administrators said today the change will save about $1 million. They plan to make the recommendation to school board members May 10.

Students and staff members at Metro-Midtown, 640 N. Emporia, were notified of the proposal today and letters are being sent home to parents, said Denise Wren, assistant superintendent for high schools.

"It's just a sad decision, but I think in the long run we'll see that this will strengthen our alternative education programs," Wren said.

"As I talked with the Metro-Midtown staff today, they really are like family, and that's been the toughest part."

Students at Metro-Midtown who are not graduating this spring will meet with school officials in coming weeks to create a "personal transition plan" for next school year, Wren said. At last count, there were 100 students enrolled at the school.

Students will get priority placement at the district's other two alternative high schools, Metro-Boulevard and Metro-Meridian. They also will have the option of completing their high school diploma at one of the district's learning centers or at their neighborhood high school.

The 22 teachers and other employees at Metro-Midtown will be reassigned to other Wichita schools, Wren said.

Metro-Midtown is the smallest of the district's three alternative high schools. Metro-Meridian has 147 students; Metro-Boulevard has 122.

Alternative high schools are designed for students who have not been successful in a traditional school setting. The environment is generally smaller and more flexible than a traditional high school, and includes more one-on-one instruction. The schools also support students who need longer than four years to finish high school.

Wren said the proposed closing of Metro-Midtown is not a first step toward doing away with alternative high schools altogether.

"We are very committed to alternative education.... We know that for many students, this is the right setting for them to be able to continue their education and complete their diploma."

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