Clinton and Camanche starting an alternative high school next year

CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) -- Students in Clinton will have an alternative high school to go to starting next year. The decision comes after two districts came together to make it happen.

Jorge Landa Rodriguez is always at the Gateway Area Community Center. Making sure the place looks neat. He’s owned the building that sits at 1850 South Bluff Blvd since January of last year. Rodriguez says he started the community center to offer programs to support kids.

“Even though the programming we have is somewhat recreational. There is always a purpose ahead of the recreation, which is education,” said Jorge Landa Rodriguez, Executive Director of Clinton Gateway Area Community Center. “We want to make sure that the programming that we bring in gives them a path in the future,”

Rodriguez knows it takes a village to raise children. That’s why he was more than willing to offer his space when the Clinton School District reached out looking for a space to start an alternative school. The school district originally had an alternative school but got rid of the program a while back. Something that Rodriguez is happy to see come back.

“We knew it was a program that honestly should have probably never left,” said Landa Rodriguez. “That should have still been available. A lot of kids learn differently,”

Clinton has now teamed up with neighboring district Camanche and they see a lot of benefits to the relationship.

“What we have found out though is we do have a segment of students that are really struggling in a traditional high school setting,” said Gary DeLacy, Clinton Superintendent.

The districts will lease six classrooms from the community center. A total of 50 students from Clinton and Camanche will utilize the program.

“We are really looking at a different approach of educating kids. A very project based, community based model with blended learning,” said DeLacy

Rodriguez says the Gateway Community Center has around seven different after school programs. Like USA Boxing to teach the kids life skills that go beyond the ring. As well as gaming to bring different kids together.

“These kids might just come here for school and end up not leaving for the day for the after school programming that we offer,” said Landa Rodriguez.

A positive that the district hopes will make a difference.

“Schools look too much like when I went to school,” said DeLacy. “We need to be thinking out of the box in terms of how we make these kids successful,”

The two districts say they are looking at a budget of a little bit over a half million dollars to make the alternative school possible. The school will use current teachers and hire a social worker, school counselors along with other staff to run the program.