County Board approves resolution supporting Regional Office of Education Alternative Education Programs for K-5th Grades



March 27, 2024

Contact: Danielle Grindle

Phone: (815) 319-4233

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. – The Regional Office of Education serving Boone and Winnebago Counties has implemented Alternative Education Programs for some of our county's most challenging and vulnerable middle and high school aged students. The Regional Office of Education (ROE) has requested action in the Illinois General Assembly to allow for Alternative Education Programs to be implemented for K-5th grade students in Winnebago County. With ROE being partially funded by the County of Winnebago's annual budget, the County Board recently approved a resolution urging the Illinois General Assembly to act in support of the program's expansion to include K-5th grade students throughout Winnebago County.

Summit Academy, one of the largest Alternative Education Schools in the state of Illinois, currently serves middle school through 12th grade students in Boone and Winnebago Counties. At Summit, the curriculum is intentionally focused on students' social-emotional and academic needs, all with the goal of restoring and returning every student to their home school or on to graduate. Currently, a program with a similar mission such as this does not exist for our youngest students statewide due to a gap in our current Illinois School Code.

"The lack of alternative options for this younger demographic of learners often leads to these vulnerable students being over-identified for special education services or forced into homeschooling," said Regional Superintendent Scott Bloomquist. "We are lobbying for change to be made statewide so that across Illinois, we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a quality education in a safe and supportive environment."

To ensure that all students regardless of grade level have access to appropriate educational interventions and support services, Executive Director of Summit Academy Nicole Corbett will be meeting with local legislators to discuss amending Section 240.20 of the Illinois School Code to include all ages of students (K-12) and to raise awareness of this underserved student population.

"The Regional Office of Education, under the leadership of Scott Bloomquist, is doing incredible work with some of the most vulnerable children in our community," said District 20 Board Member John Sweeney (R), who sponsored the resolution submitted through the Legislative & Lobbying Committee. "It's vital that this work be expanded to include children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. This alternative education program is vital to their success, and creates a safer work environment for district teachers and students."