Milestones reported in first months of ‘Safe Schools’

By Tony Ku

It’s a program that’s been in existence for only five months, but district administrators already are calling it a success.

“We’ve had a few notable accomplishments,” said Samantha Heinrich, coordinator of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program.

Some of these accomplishments included the creation of Kyrene Learning Labs, which Heinrich described as a “ninth hour” for kids to receive everything from additional help on various academic subjects to teaching them productive study habits.

Heinrich reported that, within those five months, more than 500 students had utilized the learning labs on a weekly basis.

Among other milestones were the hiring of six prevention supervisors, whose responsibilities include linking Kyrene kids and families to the various programs geared at helping them increase their chances for success.

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students prevention program initially started n December 2003 after receiving a three-year federal grant aimed at improving student performance by identifying at-risk students and giving the district additional resources to ensure success.

“We’re now able to enhance the educational activities of our students,” said Kelly Alexander, principal at Akimel Middle School.

“More opportunities now exist for our students to succeed, and we’re all very thankful for that.”

Another initiative Heinrich said was unique to the district was the creation of an alternative-to-suspension program due to be launched in Fall 2004.

Next steps for the group include creating a steering committee that would provide regular feedback and expanding community involvement by increasing awareness.