Suspension solutions

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock students who get suspended from school now will serve their punishments on campus as the district ends its agreement with an off-site service-provider.

Eastern Hancock Schools officials have opted not to renew their contract with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County, where out-of-school suspensions were served for the past five years, citing rising costs for students to be supervised there.

A $3,600 price increase to the yearly $15,000 contract and a reduction in the number of days per week club staffers will be made available to supervise students prompted officials to examine other options, said Eastern Hancock Schools superintendent Vicki McGuire.

During the 2015-16 school year, the club charged the district a flat rate to monitor its out-of-school suspension students at the club’s Greenfield facility, where they spent the day working on school assignments. Corporation-wide, fewer than 80 students were given out-of-school suspensions last year, Eastern Hancock High School principal David Pfaff said.

The club also serves Greenfield-Central schools; all told, the out-of-school suspension program monitored about 300 students last year, said Candace Sexton, Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County unit director.

For the coming school year, the club increased Eastern’s price to $18,600 and said the club would no longer staff the program on Fridays. Club officials raised the price to cover their costs associated with handling the suspensions. Eastern Hancock usually doesn’t send as many students on Fridays as it does other days, so removing Friday from the schedule made sense to club officials, Sexton said.

Going forward, Eastern students will be kept in classrooms on the school campus. The district plans to hire a part-time employee for four days a week to supervise them, which McGuire estimated would cost about $13,000 per year.

In addition to the reduction in costs to the school district, the new arrangement will be advantageous, Pfaff said, because the student’s classroom teacher will be able to contact the student during the day.

“We will have small numbers and can tailor activities to fit the student’s specific behavioral needs,” Pfaff wrote in an email.

Keeping suspended students on campus will create more flexibility in terms of how long a student can be assigned to the suspension room, he said.

Students can be sent to the suspension room for one class period if teachers feel they need to cool down, he said, or more serious infractions like fighting can draw a three-day punishment.

Eastern Hancock district officials expect to post the job opening this week, Pfaff said.

Meanwhile, the district maintains a relationship with the boys and girls clubs.

While the club will not monitor suspended students, other programming, including student activities conducted at the elementary school, will continue this fall.

“We appreciate the partnership we have with Eastern,” Sexton said.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.