By Sean Scarpiello
In New York, the Liverpool School District is implementing the FOCUS program for the 2011-2012 school year. The program is being implemented to raise the 81% district graduation rate. The new program will be held in a recently closed elementary in the district and is expected to have approximately 50 students enrolled in the program by the fall. This program is designed to focus on students who have trouble in high school by personalizing classes and giving students more individualized attention. Although the program looks like it will be successful, many parents are skeptical and feel that it is not a prudent investment.
The program has good intentions and will definitely raise the graduation rate. It is important to personalize education for students that struggle, especially in high school. As society attempts to educate more and more people, education is becoming less personal. When students have less individualized attention, many begin to struggle because they have different learning styles, ineffective teachers, or because they need more time to grasp information. As educators find successful methods of educating more people in a shorter time, it is important to remember to keep education personal to some extent.
The FOCUS program however looks as if it will find success only at a high cost. The fact that the district is reopening a school for 50 students is a bit ridiculous. It costs a lot of money to reopen and maintain a school. The original idea to shut down the elementary school in the first place was to save money. Reopening the school for a small group of students is not efficient. When it comes to educating students in a public school, districts try to limit the amount money being spent on each student. My high school spent about $9,500 a year to educate me. This included everything from books to my share of teachers’ salaries. When the FOCUS program is implanted, the majority of students will have a similar amount of money being put towards their education, but there will be 50 students with much larger amounts of money being put towards their education.
In all, the FOCUS program will be good for the students who need it but there are easier and more efficient ways of carrying the program out. The only problem which really seems to upset the district’s taxpayers is that the local elementary school is being reopened. If the FOCUS program could be carried out in the high school, the program would be perfect. This would reduce a lot of the costs that accompany reopening and maintaining a building for a small number of students. Perhaps the administration will recognize this after the first year of implementing this program. The current state of the economy forces school districts to use their money wisely and the best way to make this program cheaper and efficient is to use high school classrooms.