Recent changes to the Statesmen Center have raised questions among students and parents.
At the school board meeting on March 11, principal Matt Irvin and assistant principal Shiree Yeggins presented their plans for an updated program.
Irvin stated he wants this new program to focus on “creating personalized, blended learning with smaller class sizes being more flexible, more driven by the individual student’s interests and needs and supports.”
The need for an update came after the Kirkwood School District announced it would be moving the VISTA program onto the Kirkwood High School campus.
According to director of student services John M. Thomas, “The original purpose [of VISTA] was long term suspensions.” However, as time has passed, that has changed, and “a number of the students who were going to VISTA were there for alternative reasons.”
According to the Kirkwood School District website, 60 students currently attend VISTA. A majority of those are Kirkwood students.
The Webster Groves School District pays for 18 seats at VISTA, costing $6,744.44 per seat. Currently, 16 of those seats are filled. Since VISTA is closing, those students will be moved back to their respective schools.
Currently, there is not a definite plan in for how the programs will come together.
“The initial thought is that we will have… all opportunities in one place,” Yeggins said. However, “we have not confirmed it.”
“They’re really two different programs,” Thomas said.
In regards to how students will be selected, Yeggins said, “Some of those students (at VISTA) will automatically be a part of this setting, and some will be invited to this setting.”
As for staff, Irvin said he would like full-time staff, as well as interns.
“We’ve already begun conversations with Webster University to provide interns to provide either group or individual counseling and therapeutic counseling for students,” Irvin said.
Julie Burchett coordinated the Statesmen Center until December of last year.
“We want to make sure we have people who have chosen to be in that setting, people who have a heart for that work, people who see the purpose, the ability for that stuff,” Irvin said, about hiring full-time staff.
This is news editor Ethan Weihl’s first year on ECHO staff. He is excited to begin his work on the ECHO. He has not decided on college yet, but he wants to major in Political Science and Journalism.