The Marana Schools Governing Board voted unanimously to make the Marana Career & Technical School (MCATS) program an official alternative school, during its April 14 meeting.

Lynne Prouty, MCATS director, said the program started as a half-day alternative for students who struggle in the public-school setting. It eventually transitioned into a full-day program.

MCATS provides students with an alternative to the traditional classroom for students from Marana and Mountain View high schools.

However, Prouty said because they are labeled  just a “program” rather than an alternative school, they have to follow policy, transportation and the calendar set for both Mountain View and Marana high schools.

Prouty said it’s difficult to communicate effectively with parents regarding grades and other issues because they are not considered separate.

The success of the program is mostly unknown because the students’ grades are compared to the rest of the mainstream high school students, making it hard to analyze actual data.

By becoming a standalone school, the students’ rate of success will be compared to other students in the same program.

“A performance rating for this school right now is non-existent,” said Prouty. “That is mainly because we are viewed as a program and not a school.”

Prior to the governing-board vote, MCATS had already received alternative-school designation from the Arizona Department of Education.

Prouty said changing the designation will not cost the district any more money, noting they already have the staff in place, and by having their own transportation, they will save up to 40 minutes a day for instruction time.

Superintendent Doug Wilson agreed with Prouty.

“This will create additional instruction time that they currently don’t have,” he said. “They will have the same number of students and the same staff. It won’t create more work, it will open the lines of communication and make their jobs a lot more doable.”

Board member Dan Post voted in favor of the proposal, but asked why a program that was supposed to be temporary has now become a permanent part of the district.

Wilson responded the reality is there is always a group of students who do not function as well in the traditional classroom setting, and the district can either adapt to that or lose the students to another school that will.

In personnel matters, the governing board approved Wilson’s recommendation to hire Barbara Kohl as the principal of Tortolita Middle School.

Five candidates were interviewed for the position; Kohl was recommended out of three finalists.

Starting July 1, Denise Linsalata was appointed to serve as principal of Picture Rocks Intermediate School.

Linsalata is not new to the Marana School District. Wilson explained to the board that she had been heading both Picture Rocks Intermediate and Desert Winds Elementary School over the last year, but the district found it was too much.

Wilson recommended putting Linsalata at Picture Rock, and post the position for a new principal to be hired at Desert Winds.

The Marana Schools Governing Board will meet again on April 28.

Reporter Thelma Grimes can be reached at 797-4384 or by email at tgrimes@explorernews.com.

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