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March 3rd, 2010Knox County could locate school at mall

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by Nick Bona and Jennifer Jackson

Knoxville, Tenn. – The first week of March will be a busy one for the Knox County School System.

It kicked off Monday morning with the first day of meetings for the newly formed Safety Review Committee. The 16 member panel will meet at times over 48 hours in an effort to review, analyze and assess Knox County’s school security protocols and human resource procedures.

School officials didn’t want to talk about the committee on Monday evening. They were eager to discuss a new initiative to keep students in school.

Knox County is talking with the Simon Youth Foundation about creating an Educational Resource Center in the Knoxville Center Mall.

Knox County Schools Superintendent James McIntyre wrote in a memo that the foundation had approached the school system about established an ERC at the mall some time ago. Both sides recently started talking again and in February, Knox County submitted a “pre-application” to join the program in February.

Simon ERCs are alternative schools, meant to provide at-risk youth the opportunity to earn their high school diploma in a non-traditional environment. It is designed for students who are on track to graduating but simply aren’t succeeding at their normal high school.

“So many of these kids who were afraid they would never graduate from high school, more than 60 percent go on to some form of education beyond grade 12,” said Dr. Richard Markhoff, with the Simon Youth Foundation, “and 40 percent go on to jobs, apprenticeships in the military.”

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