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Knox to offer bus hubs, after-school program in 2017-18

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Knox Center for Accelerated Studies will soon expand its offerings after a recent school board decision.

Monday, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted to provide money to the magnet program, which is in its first year.

This year, the school launched five high school-level classes for higher-performing students and accepted applications from students across the county.

But the original design for the program included much more — an extended school day or year-round calendar, transportation for all students regardless of original attendance zone, internships and partnerships with local organizations, and more.

Those design pieces were dependent on a School Improvement Grant, school Co-Principal Mike Waiksnis told the board Monday. But Knox was not awarded the grant. Since then, Waiksnis and his team have been brainstorming about how they might expand the program withing the budget.

Their two main solutions? Bus hubs and an after-school program.

“A question we get all the time is about transportation,” Waiksnis said.

Knox recently accepted an additional 15 students for the 2017-18 school year — openings that are dependent on the school’s seat capacity. But Waiksnis said he spoke to approximately the same number of families living outside the school’s attendance zones who were not able to send their child to Knox because of transportation problems.

With roughly $40,000, the school could set up hubs that would run from the district’s other middle schools to Knox, Waiksnis said. However, he said that would mean the school would have to reopen applications for the 2017-18 year.

The other issue is additional time for students. Advance courses help those students who are above grade level, but the program was designed to nurture students who are at or below grade level, as well. To do that, the students need more time with teachers.

Extending the school day would cost approximately $300,000 to $350,000, according to Waiksnis’ estimates. But there is another option: an after-school program.

While it wouldn’t involve the entire student body like an extended day, a year-round after-school program could still benefit some students and would cost about $60,000 to operate.

School board Chairman Josh Wagner said it has been a while since the board followed up on the magnet program. Board members were excited about it when it launched, but after the grant failed, “It seemed like it kind of fell through the cracks,” he said.

Superintendent Lynn Moody suggested that the board could appropriate the funds, roughly $125,000 to allow for a margin of error, from its fund balance and let Knox try out the expanded offerings for a year.

Board member Richard Miller was in favor of the option, calling it “pulling out fertilizer” for the program.

“I think we owe it to Knox because of the progress that has been made,” he said.

The board briefly debated bringing the issue back at a later meeting, but board member Dean Hunter urged that the board make a decision.

“Time is of the essence if we’re talking about opening up another window,” he said. “Every day counts.”

Miller made the motion to appropriate $125,000 from the fund balance for use in an after-school program and transportation for the 2017-18 school year.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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