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High school students attending an alternative-learning program at the Tonawanda City District's Central School will not be interacting with the building's preschoolers, Superintendent Diana D. Greene said.

At this week's School Board meeting, Mrs. Greene addressed concerns raised at an Aug. 10 session, when two speakers questioned the appropriateness of mixing the two age groups. They said the younger children could be exposed to undesirable language and behavior.

But Mrs. Greene said the older students, ninth- and 10th-graders from the Tonawanda City and North Tonawanda schools, "will at no time be interacting with the little people in the building." Citing the use of separate restrooms, she said plans have been made to keep the groups apart.

Mrs. Greene added that the alternative program was developed for students with attendance rather than discipline problems. She said there is a rigorous screening process, and students are closely supervised. "If they cause problems they are removed," she said.

The program will involve about eight or nine students at the start, "so there won't be a huge invasion of young people," said the superintendent. She said the number could climb to 15. There are an estimated 150 preschoolers in the building. Mrs. Greene said the alternative learning program is a collaboration of the Tonawanda City and North Tonawanda Schools through the Niagara-Orleans Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Ninth- and 10th-graders from both school districts will attend the Central School alternative program, while the 11th- and 12th-grade students will participate in a similar program provided by North Tonawanda at the Boys and Girls Club.

Mrs. Greene said North Tonawanda has experienced success with its alternative program, which has been in operation for four years.

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