El Dorado News-Times
Murmil leader gives positive report to El Dorado School Board
Rusty Manning, a program director with the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative, told the El Dorado School Board last week that alternative education programs at the Murmil Education Center have seen positive results.
“It’s not perfect every day, but we’re trying our best,” Manning said.
Manning started at Murmil in November, after former director of alternative education Jason Arrington retired, he said.
Students at Murmil are part of either its alternative education program or HUB program. The alternative education program gives students who are referred for academic, behavioral or social issues the opportunity to continue classroom learning while also receiving education on coping and life skills and “character education,” according to the district’s website.
The HUB program gives 9th-12th graders a flexible schedule, with individualized focus to help every student reach graduation.
Manning said that several students have recently transitioned from Murmil back to their home schools successfully.
“For elementary, we’ve got three or four who are in transition right now,” he said. “We did one the other day – he’s going to go (to his home school) every Wednesday for half a day at first. We want to take it slow with the young ones.”
A major element of Murmil’s strategy is keeping classroom size small, though that can make transitioning students back to their home schools, where classes are larger, difficult, Manning said.
“We do’t have more than 10 students in the classroom on the K-6th side; on the 7-12th side, no more than 15,” he said. “Small groups do work well.”
The HUB program is particularly useful for students who have jobs. Manning cited one student, who transferred into the district this year as a senior, who likely would not be able to give his studies the same rigor that he is at Murmil.
“I think he worked last night until 2:30, and he was there at 7:45 this morning, and then he was out there
this afternoon waiting for his ride to take him to work again today,” Manning said. “It’s a good program for them, because 7:30-3:30, five days a week at the high school – they’re there all day thinking, ‘what am I going to do when I get to work?’”
Manning said the HUB program can be used as a goal for students in the alternative education (AE) program to move toward.
“I’ve got some who are going to transition from AE to HUB, and for a student who didn’t do really well at the high school for whatever reason, when it comes to AE, we can kind of dangle that in front of them and tell them, ‘hey, if you do well, we’ll talk to you about possibly transitioning to HUB,’” Manning said, noting that students who would prefer to transition back to El Dorado High School may also take that route.
Students who have transitioned from AE to HUB already have seen success in the program, he said.
“Students that, in AE, weren’t the cause of a discipline problem … who have now gotten into HUB are doing really well in that,” he said. “That makes me feel really good about the direction of the program with some of the students there that were successful.”
Manning estimated that about a quarter of Murmil students have jobs.
The school also has several activities planned for students in the coming weeks. Manning said students will get to take a cooking unit in April, and after spring break will get to learn about animal care from veterinarians at the El Dorado Animal Hospital.