A new alternative education program will open in South-Western City Schools in January.

A new alternative education program will open in South-Western City Schools in January.

SWCS is partnering with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio to open Franklin Academy at 3225 Kingston Ave. Students in elementary through high school who are at risk or may have emotional and behavioral challenges will receive services there.

“We’re excited. This is a small group of students who need those intensive services,” said district director of special education Steve Carr. The program is a way to partner and provide support to students who are the most challenged and provide the services that they need.

In January, the academy will serve a maximum of 30 students for the rest of the 2011-12 school year. A maximum of 60 students will be the projected capacity for the following school year. Students from other districts will be able to be referred to the program, which will run in accordance with the SWCS school calendar.

ESCCO will provide course materials and staff for the program at no cost to the district.

“It’s a win-win partnership,” Carr said.

The cooperative agreement will enhance students’ learning and provide success for the district’s students in the future, he said. The program will be able to better serve students who are currently placed elsewhere. Students often have to receive services outside the district.

“The long-term goal is always to get those kids stable and provide the support they need so that they’re successful when they return to a traditional setting,” he said.

Currently, seven students requiring mental health services are placed outside the district, Carr told The Record.

Superintendent Bill Wise said he is excited the program will follow the SWCS course of study and use district materials. “It’s a small perk for some, but it’s a big perk in many ways for the children that we serve.”

An open house for the educational service center will be held from 2-4 and 5-7 p.m. Dec. 8 at 3225 Kingston Ave. ESCCO representatives will be present to answer questions.