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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Guests arrive Tuesday for a dedication of Crossroads Learning Center in downtown Rogers.

ROGERS -- Students who need an alternative learning program have a new school building devoted to them.

A crowd of about 60 people gathered Tuesday morning in the parking lot of the Crossroads Learning Center to celebrate the building's official opening.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Guests, including former Rogers School Board president Joye Kelley (from left) and former superintendent Janie Darr, gather Tuesday for the dedication of Crossroads Learning Center in downtown Rogers.

"Crossroads lets students recover credits, find their strengths and reach the next level," said Kristen Cobbs, School Board president, during opening remarks.

Cindy Ford, Crossroads principal, said she was excited about what the new building will mean for her students.

"We really needed our own space because, at the Annex, we had New Tech, the Professional Development Center and Crossroads," she said of where the program has been housed. "Those are three communities with very distinct needs. It just worked out that the School Board saw that need was not being met and initiated the action to get this building."

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The development center is a place for teacher and staff training, and sometimes serves as a meeting space for school officials. It will move to a new building adjacent to Rogers High School. New Technology High School took over the entire Annex building.

The new Crossroads has the same capacity it had at the Annex, but students won't have to share common space with other groups.

"That's just not conducive to our philosophy of what we do with the kids," Ford said. "We help them learn about personal space and making good decisions."

The new, 22,000-square-foot building has 10 classrooms for high school students plus a few more for those in middle school. The school includes a media center, two computer labs, art room, library, common area, coffee station and lunchroom.

Students will have to be bused to the Rogers Activity Center for physical education because there's no gymnasium.

"Fortunately, it's very close -- just down the street," said Charles Lee, assistant superintendent for Rogers. "That's the only thing we're lacking right now, but we're working on that right now as well."

The building can hold up to 150 high school students and 25 middle school students. It will open at about 85 percent of capacity to leave room for students who need to transfer during the year from other Rogers schools, said Ashley Siwiec, the district's communication director.

The project cost an estimated $3.5 million, but the final cost hasn't come in yet, Siwiec said. The money came from the School District's building fund. Construction took eight months.

The building is at 305 N. Second St. in Rogers, a block from downtown. It previously was a grocery store.

"The board sought this out, thinking about how many places are there in Rogers that would even house a small school," said Superintendent Marlin Berry. "They wanted something existing to build off of, and it was also because of this revitalization of downtown Rogers that was of interest."

The learning center is about 2 miles north of the newly renovated Annex, the old home of Crossroads. The alternative program got its own place after the district spent $1.7 million to renovate and expand the Annex for New Tech High School this summer. New Tech has a charter for around 900 students, and the school has grown in recent years, leading to the need for more space, Siwiec said.

Crossroads offers a more intimate learning experience with smaller teacher-to-student ratios for students who need it. The program also helps students if they fall behind in school.

There is still some minor cleanup to be done before doors open Aug. 16, but the school should be ready, Lee said.

Berry added the new school is a wonderful and appropriate learning space for students.

"The excitement is going to start next Wednesday when those kids walk through the doors," Berry said.

NW News on 08/09/2017

Print Headline: Alternative education program finds new home in Rogers downtown

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