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Pioneer School District officials have decided to use an off-site location for in-school suspensionsfor another year.

While many districts use on-campus rooms for students with disciplinary problems, Pioneer district officials chose an alternative approach for the second straight year.

The School Board has approved the district's renting the Sardinia Building on Savage Road until Oct. 1, 2002.

Assistant School Superintendent Jeff Bowen said the goal of the program is to show students that misbehavior will not be tolerated. A full-time instructor and teacher's assistant staff the site.

The facility costs the district about $4,000 a year in rent. The building houses between eight and 10 students per day from either the high school or the middle school.

Students are transported to the facility in the morning and often remain for the school day.

"I think it underscores the message that a student whose behavior warrants it needs to be separated from the school environment," Bowen said. "The idea is to make it clear that it is not business as usual if their behavior warrants it."

School officials said the off-site building is one of a host of measures for reducing the district's suspension rate and enforce the newly created code of conduct, which was required of all schools under new state legislation to combat violence.

District officials said student and faculty mentoring programs have also been used to reduce the number of suspensions, which dropped to 129 in 2000-01 from 188 in 1999-2000.

School officials said the off-site facility was created in response to the district's comprehensive educational Plan, which was recently implemented as a way to improve student achievement and accountability.

District plans regarding eligibility requirements for extra-curricular activities, student testing and the responsibilities of school officials were also either reviewed or adopted by the School Board last week as other ways to improve student achievement.

The extracurricular eligibility plan was the only plan not approved by board members because the measure had been in place for a year and school leaders just want to review the plan.

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