Alternative High School Closing

By: Lauren Zakali Email
By: Lauren Zakali Email

For more than a decade, Meridian High School in Haslett has been the home to some of mid-Michigan's most struggling students.

"Whether they were pregnant, in trouble with the law or not being very successful academically, we provided a second chance for those students," says Haslett Superintendent Mike Duda.

But there are no more chances left for those kids at least not at this school.

News 10 has learned the alternative education program that serves students from about 14 districts has ended this year.

"The alternative education program is something we just couldn't afford to shoulder any longer," Duda says.

He says it can cost up to $6,000 more to educate an alternative ed student than a general ed student ($3,500 more for a number of reasons, including a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, and $2,500 more if the student requires day care for their child).

The district will be saving $400,000 a year without the school; easy math, hard choice.

"It was a tough decision for the board. You're talking about impacting children's lives-- it's not an easy decision right now. This is a school district that has always prided itself on the alternative ed," Duda says.

But Meridian High School closing its doors and not accepting anymore students might be just the tip of the iceberg, because with so many districts seeing hard budget times, other programs could be getting cut too.

"It's a sign of the times," says Dr. Sharif Shakrani, educational policy expert at MSU.

And a scary sign at that, because Shakrani says these are the programs that help those most at risk.

"We need to find whatever ways possible to encourage students to complete their high school education program," he says.

The students at Meridian just won't be able to do it at the place they considered a second chance for so long.

Duda says the remaining students who would have returned to the school next year will either be enrolled back into Haslett High School or will continue taking classes at LCC.

At one time, the program had 125-140 students; this year, it had dwindled down to 50 because they had stopped enrolling students.


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