A business in Shelby County has donated a building to help create a new alternative high school program for AHST-W students. The Daily NonPareil reports VCM LCC, a subsidiary of Nishnabotna Valley REC of Harlan, donated a 10,000-square-foot building at 919 N. Chestnut St. to the school district last week, which will open its doors for a new program to help students at risk of not graduating earn their high-school diploma.
Superintendent Jesse Ulrich said that Thursday was the first day for the new Viking Excel program, which will serve 10 students in 10th through 12th grades with an additional five or so students anticipated by the end of the year.
The AHST Community School District serves the communities of Avoca, Hancock, Shelby and Tennant, as well as secondary students from the Walnut Community School District through whole-grade sharing. Ulrich said Walnut had sent alternative students to programs in Atlantic and Council Bluffs, but AHST had left them in the mainstream high school program.
Creating an alternative program moved to the top of the district’s to-do list after an evaluation of the AHST programs focused on addressing the number of dropouts. Ulrich said the at-risk students were not being given learning opportunities to meet their needs. The new program will blend online learning with support from a teacher and an administrative assistant for about half of the school day.
The district received the building for free after inquiring about purchasing it from VCM. AHST couldn’t afford the original price, but the company came back and offered the building, which has been vacant for about four years after being leased to a telemarketing firm with about 150 employees.
Records from the Pottawattamie County Assessor’s Office show the property’s assessed value at $275,600.
Ulrich said an appraisal is being completed before the deed is transferred, which may require a couple months to complete. AHST hopes to use the remaining space for economic development in Avoca, while continuing to make its facilities a regional hub for education.