A Boise school serving pregnant teen-agers will switch to an online hybrid model in the fall.
The reason: Enrollment is falling rapidly at the Marian Pritchett school, and district officials think the hybrid approach will help students graduate and open up new course options. But officials also are trying to walk staff and students through the transition.
“We do understand that this is change,” said Debbie Donovan, an area director with the Boise district.
Marian Pritchett now serves 17 to 20 students, down from 34 students less than two years ago. National teen pregnancy rates are declining, district spokesman Dan Hollar said, and Marian Pritchett’s enrollment could reflect this trend. Meanwhile, as the stigma attached to teen pregnancy is dissipating, some students decide to stay in their neighborhood high school, Donovan said.
Whatever the cause, the district believes it’s time to revamp staffing at Marian Pritchett. The school has three full-time teachers, focused on English, social studies and math and science.
While that model might appear to lend itself to small class instruction, students are often working on different course tracks. It’s possible, then, for a teacher to have only three students in a class, with students working on three different courses. “They’re not all in sync with each other,” Donovan said.
The district will scale back to one instructor, while keeping a special education instructor, a counselor and a social worker.
The hybrid model should help students stay on track to graduate, allowing them to juggle classwork around bed rest or caring for a sick infant, Donovan said. And course options will no longer be limited to what a limited on-campus faculty can provide.
The Boise district has used a hybrid model at its other alternative high schools.
While Marian Pritchett’s learning model is changing, its physical location will change as well.
In September, the school will move from its 24th Street location, near Boise’s North End, to a site near Horizon Elementary School in West Boise.
The new location should help Marian Pritchett students take career-technical classes at the nearby Dennis Technical Education Center, Donovan said. In addition, the location could be a draw for other students outside Boise; Marian Pritchett offers open enrollment for students outside the district, but students are responsible for their own transportation.
The district will watch the student numbers, and might revisit staffing in the future.
“If enrollment suddenly spikes, we will adjust,” Donovan said.