NEWLY ACCREDITED: TROY Center receives O.K. to operate independently

COLUMBIA CITY — TROY Center Alternative Learning Program, due to costs continuing to increase and available grant money continuing to decline, was faced with the possibility that doors may not stay open to youth in the community. The County Com-missioners and Council, as well as many other departments, organization and donors, have come through with funds for TROY to maintain the program throughout the 2012-13 year. After meetings, difficult decisions and after input from many of TROY’s stakeholders, school officials came up with a per student number that would be presented to the school districts to allow TROY to continue providing this service to local schools. Nicole Trier, TROY’s director said, “As we developed numbers, we kept the needs of our students at the forefront while keeping in mind that schools are faced with the same economic hard times that TROY Center is experiencing.” She went on to say in a recent press release, “We know that the absence of an external alternative education program to our schools would be detrimental to all students in the school systems not just alternative ed students themselves and we continue to take these decisions very seriously. “Since the decision was made, changes have happened quickly at TROY Center and every day brings a new challenge and new hope for the future. Trier said, “We are pleased to report that Whitko Community Schools was able to immediately respond to our offer and rallied with an agreement to support the partnership between TROY Center and Whitko Community Schools on into the future.”Not only did they agree to support the program at the increased funding level, but WCCS increased the amount of students that will benefit by 75 percent.“We appreciate that support and are committed to honoring that partnership to provide alternative education services to Whitko Community Schools students at the lowest cost possible,” said Trier. “We feel confident that students in this school district can be served through this partnership as well as scholarships that are available.Smith Green Community Schools, after being plagued with turnover this year, has decided that a partnership was not something budgeted for by previous administration. But Trier said she remains optimistic that a partnership can be renewed in future months.Whitley County Con-solidated Schools decided in July to cut back the number of students that can be served through this partnership by 60 percent.Trier said, “Our concern is that the number of students being served through this partnership was already well below the need that exists. If more students within the school district are in need of the services that we provide than can be processed through this partnership, we needed another course of action to avoid having to turn these students away.”Trier has been working closely with the Department of Education to solve this crisis in the community. One answer was for TROY Center to pursue Freeway Accreditation that would allow the school to operate as a freestanding alternative school option for students in this community that cannot be referred through the public school systems. This option allows TROY Center to operate on its own as needed, but also allows TROY to continue its partnerships with local school systems whenever possible. “It is important to us to maintain those partnerships if at all possible while allowing for an alternative route to serve students if schools choose not to partner with us or cannot partner at a level that meets the needs of the communities,” Trier said.This alternative route would allow students to apply to the school privately and also apply for a voucher from the state for tuition reimbursement. “As we have stated previously, this route would only be used if and when partnership with the schools is not available,” Trier said. “Our first priority is to serve as many students that need the service we provide. However, we also intend to honor our commitment to the community to serve students through mutually beneficial partnerships with schools if at all possible.”Aug. 1, TROY received word that its petition for accreditation was approved by the state board. This approval has allowed the program to move forward with opening up to students to whom access was once denied due to limited school funding availability. Trier said, “We are now accepting applications for the 2012-13 school year. Any interested students or parents should contact the school to schedule an appointment.” To contact TROY Center, call 244-2340 or e-mail