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District U46 officials look at funding alternative education for students

Tim Pofer, pastor at Alliance Bible Church, shared the story of one young man's difficulties during a District U46 town hall meeting Wednesday on alternative education models for students.

The young man had become upset during a program organized by Crossroads Kids Club, Pofer said.

Assisting him, he said, "helped me get insight a little bit more into who he really is."

Pofer said the takeaway for him is that having one-on-one life conversations with community youth helps them realize their potential for achievement in school.

That's where the discussion began at Streamwood Park District's Hoosier Grove Barn, where one of the topics discussed was the growing need to help students and how to fund alternative programs.

District U46 board members Phil Costello and Sue Kerr, in addition to community leaders from Hanover Township, Crossroads Kids Club, Bricks for Kidz and others, talked about available services and areas of need.

Pofer said the challenge in creating alternative education for community youth is clearing the financial hurdles.

"To have a long-term impact, and ongoing, is a challenge to find kind of that fit where people can be invested," he said. "What appealed to us with (the programs at) Crossroads was to be able to go into a school after school."

The kids are not charged for the program, and the club provides snacks.

Pofer said at three years into program, there are 50 kids who come every week.

Board member Phil Costello, noting that many people talk about U46 and a need to work together, said he would agree that collaboration is key.

Costello said more work is necessary to better serve the District U46 community, but finding alternative programs hasn't been easy.

"We're all under very tight budgets. We have to figure out how to make this work for the taxpayer, not for our own budgets," he said.

Many questioned what District U46 could do to resolve the issue where gaps in programming exist.

Melissa Owens, chairperson for the District U46 citizens' advisory council, said that's where Alignment for Collaborative Education could come into the picture.

"The theory behind (Alignment for Collaborative Education) is that we take the resources that we have in the community and leverage them for the benefit of U46," she said.

Owens said the idea of the organization and what it does could satisfy the community but the funding would need to come from businesses or grant opportunities.

"How can we find funding for programs like that at a regional level to benefit kids at the school level?" she said.

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