Al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram cel­e­brates new home in Rogers

Ren­o­vated build­ing lo­cated block from city’s down­town

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - ALEXAN­DER NI­COLL

ROGERS — Stu­dents who need an al­ter­na­tive learn­ing pro­gram have a new school build­ing de­voted to them.

A crowd of about 60 peo­ple gath­ered Tues­day morn­ing in the park­ing lot of the Cross­roads Learn­ing Cen­ter to cel­e­brate the build­ing’s of­fi­cial open­ing.

“Cross­roads lets stu­dents re­cover cred­its, find their strengths and reach the next level,” said Kris­ten Cobbs, School Board pres­i­dent, dur­ing open­ing re­marks.

Cindy Ford, Cross­roads prin­ci­pal, said she was ex­cited about what the new build­ing will mean for her stu­dents.

“We re­ally needed our own space be­cause, at the An­nex, we had New Tech, the Pro­fes­sional De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter and Cross­roads,” she

said of where the pro­gram has been housed. “Those are three com­mu­ni­ties with very dis­tinct needs. It just worked out that the School Board saw that need was not be­ing met and ini­ti­ated the ac­tion to get this build­ing.”

The de­vel­op­ment cen­ter is a place for teacher and staff train­ing, and some­times serves as a meet­ing space for school of­fi­cials. It will move to a new build­ing ad­ja­cent to Rogers High School. New Tech­nol­ogy High School took over the en­tire An­nex build­ing.

The new Cross­roads has the same ca­pac­ity it had at the An­nex, but stu­dents won’t have to share com­mon space with other groups.

“That’s just not con­ducive to our phi­los­o­phy of what we do with the kids,” Ford said. “We help them learn about per­sonal space and mak­ing good de­ci­sions.”

The new, 22,000-square­foot build­ing has 10 class­rooms for high school stu­dents plus a few more for those in mid­dle school. The school in­cludes a me­dia cen­ter, two com­puter labs, art room, li­brary, com­mon area, cof­fee sta­tion and lunch­room.

Stu­dents will have to be bused to the Rogers Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter for phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion

be­cause there’s no gym­na­sium.

“For­tu­nately, it’s very close — just down the street,” said Charles Lee, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for Rogers. “That’s the only thing we’re lack­ing right now, but we’re work­ing on that right now as well.”

The build­ing can hold up to 150 high school stu­dents and 25 mid­dle school stu­dents. It will open at about 85 per­cent of ca­pac­ity to leave room for stu­dents who need to trans­fer dur­ing the year from other Rogers schools, said Ash­ley Si­wiec, the dis­trict’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion di­rec­tor.

The project cost an es­ti­mated $3.5 mil­lion, but the fi­nal cost hasn’t come in yet, Si­wiec said. The money came from the School Dis­trict’s build­ing fund. Con­struc­tion took eight months.

The build­ing is at 305 N. Sec­ond St. in Rogers, a block from down­town. It pre­vi­ously was a gro­cery store.

“The board sought this out, thinking about how many places are there in Rogers that would even house a small school,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Mar­lin Berry. “They wanted some­thing ex­ist­ing to build off of, and it was also be­cause of this re­vi­tal­iza­tion of down­town Rogers that was of in­ter­est.”

The learn­ing cen­ter is about 2 miles north of the newly ren­o­vated An­nex, the old home of Cross­roads. The

al­ter­na­tive pro­gram got its own place af­ter the dis­trict spent $1.7 mil­lion to ren­o­vate and ex­pand the An­nex for New Tech High School this sum­mer. New Tech has a char­ter for around 900 stu­dents, and the school has grown in re­cent years, lead­ing to the need for more space, Si­wiec said.

Cross­roads of­fers a more in­ti­mate learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with smaller teacher-to-stu­dent ra­tios for stu­dents who need it. The pro­gram also helps stu­dents if they fall be­hind in school.

There is still some mi­nor cleanup to be done be­fore doors open Aug. 16, but the school should be ready, Lee said.

Berry added the new school is a won­der­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate learn­ing space for stu­dents.

“The ex­cite­ment is go­ing to start next Wed­nes­day when those kids walk through the doors,” Berry said.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF

Guests ar­rive Tues­day for a ded­i­ca­tion of Cross­roads Learn­ing Cen­ter in down­town Rogers.

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