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CASPER - Kelly Walsh High School will establish a ninth-grade program this fall, Natrona County School Board Vice Chairwoman Bonnie Foster said at a press conference Thursday.

The program will be open first to students from East Junior High School, which is scheduled to close at the end of the current school year. Other students in the district who will enter ninth grade next year may also apply for the program at KWHS, she said.

The school district intends to act immediately on these plans, which were developed during school district-sponsored, interest-based agreement process (IBAP) sessions that ended Tuesday.

Kelly Walsh Principal Brad Diller said his staff is excited about the opportunity. The east-side high school currently serves students in 10th through 12th grades.

East's teachers and classified staff are guaranteed a position at schools throughout the district - placements are being identified now - and will be given preferential status when placements arise, according to the committee's decisions.

Plans for current eighth-grade students in the district give East students the first opportunity to enroll in the new ninth-grade at KWHS, followed by Centennial, Woods and Poison Spider, and the rest of the district.

All other ninth-grade programs in the district will remain at the junior high programs at Centennial, CY, Dean Morgan, Fort Caspar Academy and Midwest.

Sports and co-curricular activities at all schools will be expanded based on student demand, under the plan.

All East students enrolled in Behavioral and Social Skills (BASS) and Functional Life Skills programs will move as a whole with their teachers, according to the terms of the plan.

Current district sixth- and seventh-grade students may enroll in any seventh- or eighth-grade program in the district, according to the plans.

The junior high schools may explore alternative scheduling to meet student needs, and the district will collect and analyze data on the transition, with an initial report to the board in November.

East's staff will store and distribute equipment and materials housed at East to support school movement into other buildings.

No staff member who currently works at East will lose his or her job with the school district, according to the plan. They will follow the current formula used by the district to fill open positions.

Current staff must submit updated resumes to the district's personnel office. Resume assistance and interviewing skills classes will be offered at no cost during March and April, according to the plans.

The district will hold a series of meetings through February and March to schedule registrations and provide more information (see chart).

The district will hold registration for current sixth- through ninth-grade students until March 5. If registration has already been completed, parents can reaffirm their letters of intent or change their choice. Choices will be confirmed or denied by March 20.

Fact sheets can been found at the district Web site ( http://ncsdweb.ncsd.k12.wy.us/ ). Comments will be accepted by the district through e-mail at (comments@ncsd.k12.wy.us) although the decision to operate the 9th-grade program at KWHS already has been made.

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