Changes are being made to the West Campus to provide a better flow between the Main Campus and West Campus. These changes are planned to take action at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
“One of the things we’re really observing is we feel like we need some support more to help people develop skills beyond just academic skills to be successful,” Principal Jay Opperman said. “So learning skills, social skills, behavioral skills, we feel like we need to get some support in those ways so we are changing our staffing a little bit to help with that.”
Administration is working to improve how students transition to and from the West Campus. Opperman said the school wants to provide a better opportunity for students to be able to come back to the main campus after attending the alternative school.
“We’re really trying to provide a better continuum,” Opperman said.
Next school year, Opperman said the West Campus will have two types of programs for students.
“One would be what we kind of consider a traditional alternative education,” Opperman said. “One is a little more focused on on students struggling with some skills just to be successful at school, so it will have a little more emphasis on that.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Weichel is also working with Opperman and other administration on the redesigning of West Campus. He said the transition room would be intended for students from the West Campus to acclimate back into the high school.
“Sometimes we have students who are kind of feeling like they are ready to come back to the high school, and we agree, and it’s kind of giving them a softer landing at the high school,” Weichel said.
The transition room would be beneficial for students whose needs could be met between the West Campus school and the High School. Opperman said administration does not know where the room would be located yet, but is going to work it out for next year.
“Right now our vision is that that room would be staffed by a certified staff member and a support like a pair professional, an EA to support students who are there,” Opperman said.
The hope is that with the transition room, students who are successful at the West Campus will be able to access the electives available at the main high school. Opperman said that currently a few students from the West Campus come back over to the high school, but it is inconvenient because of timing and the expense of transportation.
“Really, our ideal is that hopefully we’ll provide students the ability to come back and access things that might relate to what they want to do after high school,” Opperman said.
To aid in this transition process, Westside hired a new assistant principal at the West Campus school: Ericka Payton, former Omaha Public Schools staff member. The current staff at the West Campus will change based on each staff member’s choice.
“So, we’ve had some staff going to the middle school,” Opperman said. “I do think one staff member has just decided that at this time they are stepping out of education. Really, that is a personal decision. One staff member is coming up here, so really it’s been by their choice, with natural transitions and requests for transfers.”
The modifications to the West Campus were brought on by the administration looking at what they needed to improve.
“It’s really true that in our district, in every building, we sit down and look at what’s working, what’s not working and what we can do better,” Weichel said. “We always recognize that we’re not perfect, and through conversations throughout the year with West Campus staff, we all talked about ideas of what we can do to be better.”
By Meredith Matz and Julia Steiner