Students who are struggling in school or facing expulsion or the possibility of expulsion have a second chance to gain their high school diploma.
The Bridges program was designed to help those students who may otherwise not complete their high school education. The program has been in existence in Shelbyville for the past 11 years.
“Bridges was designed under the state’s Safe School Law,” said Regional Superintendent Dr. Bobbi Mattingly, who also designed the program in 1996. “We built the program on the basis of what others (districts) do with the kids.”
Bridges is available in three cities in the region to cover the seven counties in the region: Paris, Lerna, and Shelbyville.
“It is the intent that every school in our region has access to this program,” Mattingly said.
Currently four county school districts have students in the Shelbyville Bridges program. The program runs an average of 20 students from 6th through 12th grade.
The students arrive to the building on East North 12th Street by 8:15 a.m. for a normal school day with classes in English, math, science, social studies, character education, and art. Two full time licensed instructors and one part time instructor work with the students. The students work at their own pace at the levels in each subject. They also have access to online courses for higher level classes. Some students are able to complete their requirements before the school year is over.
Chuck Lowell and John Mikeworth are the full time teachers for the students. Deb Nivens teaches art three days every two weeks.
Much of the computer equipment and other supplies are donated from area businesses. Funding for the program is through a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education and state aid. And just like other school districts, the program is also struggling with a tight budget.