Plans to use closed school for non-traditional students sparking - WNEM TV 5

Plans to use closed school for non-traditional students sparking controversy

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People are taking sides in the controversy over an alternative education charter school's interest in taking over the former St. Stephen School on Saginaw's west side.

Covenant Academy is a non-profit not associated with the local Covenant Healthcare System and wants to find a building in Saginaw to educate 16 to 22-year-old, non-traditional students.

"These students have numerous family issues, personal issues, that why at some point and time, it didn't work in a public school setting,” said Superintendent Jon Felske with Muskegon Public Schools.

Felske spoke on behalf of Covenant Academy Thursday night to the Adams Boulevard Area Neighborhood Association.

He said two years ago Covenant Academy bought an old Muskegon school and he said it has been a success.

Students can get a high school diploma, not a GED, from the state funded charter.

He said the students attend by choice.

"If you're ready to come back, then Covenant Academy is ready to accept you with open arms,” Felske said.

At this point, parish leaders say they're evaluating it.

“We're simply in the process of hearing what has to be said by these groups,” said Father Steve Gavit with St. Dominic Parish.

Nearby residents, though, said they don't want potential trouble. They worry about who will attend and their history.

"We want to make sure that it's going to be a safe environment and they're not going to be creating any problems,” said Pat Premo, a Saginaw resident.

"I hope it's nipped in the bud before it gets started,” said Marsha Lewless, another Saginaw resident.

There is no official timeline for a decision. 

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