Heyburn alternative school sees graduation rate double in three years

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HEYBURN, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Mt. Harrison Junior-Senior High School in Heyburn saw a growing graduation rate from 2014 to 2017.

Principal Kelly Arritt said in 2014-2015 the graduation rate was at 15 percent. In 2015-2016 it was 25 percent, and for the 2016-2017 school year they're predicting about 26 percent. Arritt said the state hasn't finalized the number yet.

"One thing that's different from our sister high school, Minico, are we are are split up in quarters. We have four quarters in the school year, and we offer three classes in one of those quarters," Arritt said.

He said classes are 1 hour and 50 minutes long, so the students are only focusing on those three classes for a longer amount of time.

"Our classroom sizes are smaller than traditional education. We try to keep it to 15, sometimes it gets a little more than that," he said.

Arritt said they also received a school improvement grant, allowing them to purchase supplies for teachers and students.

"I really just think it's a second chance for kids and we have really good staff here," he said.

However, Arritt said the graduation rate could be a little misleading for alternative schools.

"You have kids that come in. They might be behind a year, and in three years you're supposed to get them done and graduated and that's a pretty tall order, because they're already maybe a year behind," he continued. "This year, we're going to have seven or eight kids, maybe more, that are fifth year seniors or sixth year seniors that are going to graduate."

Arritt said that's the "untold story," because they don't count that toward the graduation rate.

"That's a tremendous thing to be able to graduate those kid too," he said.

Arritt said all those involved at the school help the students go toward that graduating goal.

"This is a great school and we have great kids here," he said.

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