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CLIFTON PARK: Shen debates student policy

Shenendehowa High School interim principal Frank Tedesco identified concerns with the school's student service model at the Shenendehowa Central School District's board of education meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

What I have heard from parents and students is a disappointment in the availability of counselors, said Tedesco.

In 2004, small learning communities were created within Shenendehowa High School to foster stronger relationships between students and key staff. Using this model, teams of administrators, counselors, psychologists and nurses were assigned to grade levels to support students throughout their high school experience. Once a class graduates, staff and administrators are assigned to a new ninth-grade class.

According to Tedesco, the model has created stronger relationships between staff and students; however, counselors have been challenged by having to re-learn curricula and programs such as the college admissions process.

"College admissions paper-work takes staff away from students," said Tedesco. "It's hard when counselors are serving 250 students."

In his recommendations, Tedesco suggested using a fixed team of administrators to work with ninth-graders for three or four years while maintaining grade-level rotations for staff who work with students in the 10th through 12th grades.

District superintendent L. Oliver Robinson suggested that the board look at separating ninth-grade students and assess the situation for students in the 10th through 12th grades.

"We need to look at separation of ninth-grade students because it's an immediate issue," Robinson said. "We have time to assess the piece for the 10th through 12th grades."

Robinson also said that the student service plan is due for an update in May.

Some students and parents have had their own concerns about grade-level assignments. According to student association representative, Courtney Neber, students felt that the new model limited their choices.

"Students have been concerned about the limiting of choices. They don't want to be assigned to someone they don't collaborate well with," Neber said.

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