The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board on Thursday approved a plan from School Superintendent Linda D’Amico to create an off-site alternative school — an endeavor most of the board has wanted for several years.

The new school, which will consist of a modular building housing two double classrooms with restrooms, will be located on the south end of the campus where the school system’s Central Office is located on Napoleon Street in New Roads.

The students enrolled in the alternative instruction program will be kids ages 12 and up who have been assigned to an alternative setting for 20 days or more due to suspension or expulsion from one of the district’s five other schools.

The board will spend approximately $700,000 establishing the school. That expense includes a one-time cost of $99,370 for the modular building and $18,750 for computers and setup.

During the school’s first year of operation, the district will spend $126,149 more than what it had been spending to run alternative learning programs at its five schools.

After the first year, the alternative school’s operation will cost only $8,029 above what the district had been spending on the programs at the other schools, according to D’Amico’s proposal.

The alternative school is expected to open this fall and be staffed with four certified teachers and a social worker/counselor.

“We really need to make this a special program where children are really getting help and not missing anything,” D’Amico said. “The students will receive computerized instruction and the teachers will be on-site to assist them with any help they need.”

Board member Anita LeJeune asked D’Amico to ensure that teachers at the alternative school are not only providing the students with a rigorous education, but also counseling to correct any of the behavioral problems that got them kicked out of their regular schools.

“I don’t want this to be a place where we just stick them because they’re not behaving in school,” LeJeune said.

The board approved the plan on a 7-1 vote.

Board member Chad Aguillard, who cast the lone dissenting vote, has said previously that he felt the school district was “rushing into the idea” and wanted additional thought put into creating the new school.

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