wRight Choice program helping teens in trouble

by John Holler

SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS

In 2011, Wright County Court Services and the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District began a collaborative effort to provide an alternative to out-of-school suspension for students in grades six to 12 called wRight Choice. The idea was to keep the students on pace academically, provide restorative measures to get them back into school and teach them that their actions have consequences.

Court Services Director Mike MacMillan came before the Wright County Board at its May 21 meeting to give the commissioners an update on the program. He said the program has grown markedly over the two-and-a-half years it has been in operation and that, while he was confident the program would be a success, he wasn’t sure how other school districts would receive the program.

“If we had a concern early on, it was whether other school districts would jump on board,” MacMillan said. “That concern went away pretty quickly because the program has been expanded and well-received throughout the county.”

In the last two years, wRight Choice has expanded to include students from Delano, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Maple Lake, Monticello, Rockford and Big Lake in Sherburne County. The program, which was borne out of the Safe Schools program, has become a pilot project for other counties in the state. As part of the presentation, MacMillan informed the board that the program has received a $126,000 grant from the state’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee to export the program to other counties given the success the wRight Choice program has experience.

The program has been around long enough to see the benefits of wRight Choice to the students who have been through the program. What was something of an unknown in early 2011 has become a program hailed as a successful alternative to out-of-school suspension and MacMillan believes it can be a program that serves as a template for other counties to emulate.

“From what we’ve seen, it has been a big success,” MacMillan said. “The school districts are very pleased with the results we have been able to achieve and we hope that other counties can enjoy the same level of success that we’ve had here. The goal has always been to help the kids and hopefully keeping them out of the court system as adults. To the end, I think the program has been very successful.”

In other items on the May 21 agenda, the board:

REFERRED discussion of contracts between the sheriff’s department and cities in Wright County that contract for patrol service to the ways and means committee.

AWARDED the 2013 road micro-surfacing contract to Astec Corp. in the amount of $226,567.

AUTHORIZED board attendance at the Association of Minnesota Counties District 5 semiannual meeting Thursday, June 13, in Little Falls. The meeting will address concerns, priorities and accomplishments of member counties as well as an update on legislative changes that will impact counties.

REAPPOINTED Stephen Michel to a three-year term on the Wright County Personnel Board of Appeals.

LAID over for one week awarding the contract for the upgrade to the county’s 911 emergency dispatch system. The bid package was extremely complicated and the bids were different in several key respects, so another week of analysis was needed before making a recommendation for board approval.

VOTED to out the bid specifications for repairs to County Ditch 10 on the May 28 agenda.

 

Contact John Holler at sunpressnews@ecm-inc.com

 
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