Alternative education
New program designed for troubled kids

Kirsten Larsen
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 09/98) - Youth may have an alternative to dropping out of school, with the start-up of a new program in Yellowknife, as early as February, 1999 if organizers get enough funding.

Yellowknife Health and Social Services and the Yellowknife school districts have formed a partnership to launch a program designed for youth having difficulty in school because of social problems.

"Many of the students (the program would enrol) have social issues," said Al Woods, Chief Executive Officer for Yellowknife Health and Social Services who is helping to coordinate the project. "They are the ones who the schools are having problems with or they are young mothers that can't keep regular attendance."

The program will take into account the many aspects of the students' lives, including family problems, the student's domestic situation and any learning problems.

The student's schedule would be appropriate for their situation and they would be required to meet with individual counsellors, and, if necessary, a social worker throughout the program.

The two and a half year pilot project will be able to accommodate up to 10 students in the first semester and as many as 40 students the following two years.

Start-up costs are estimated at $177,000 for the 1999 February to June semester and $396,000 for a full year of operation.

But it all depends on the partners getting the money. Funding requests have been made to the Department of Education and the Department of Social Services as well as the City of Yellowknife. If the funding is awarded, it will cover most of the cost of the project.

The city of Yellowknife was also approached for $20,000 in funding for the first year of operation and another $20,000 the following year.

The Catholic school board, the public school board and the City of Yellowknife Health and Social Services are also contributing approximately half of the funding for the program.

"We are pretty limiting of the budget we will need," said Woods. "We are planning on leasing a building and having a fairly open space plan so there won't be much (need for renovation).

"There will be one large classroom for study and computers and then individual counselling rooms and an office."