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Latrobe school tasked with providing structure for at-risk students

Emily Balser
| Monday, September 14, 2015 9:30 p.m
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Robert Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Students at odds over whether high school prepared them for life
An alternative for at-risk youths, the Robert Ketterer Charter School deals with challenges unlike any other school in Westmoreland County. The Latrobe school was founded...

An alternative for at-risk youths, the Robert Ketterer Charter School deals with challenges unlike any other school in Westmoreland County.

The Latrobe school was founded in 1998 in partnership with the nonprofit Adelphoi Village to address needs of troubled youths. About 93% percent of its enrollment is classified as economically disadvantaged, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“These are kids that are struggling in a traditional public school environment,” said Karyn Pratt, a representative with Adelphoi. “We address both educational and behavioral problems.”

Pratt said Ketterer students come from dysfunctional families or via the court system. Other students were acting out in traditional schools.

Adding to the challenges, 59 percent of the school’s students are in special education.

Despite spending $19,717 per pupil — more than any public school in the county — Ketterer received a performance score of 52.2 from the state. A passing score is 70.

Pratt said all the students need to succeed is order.

“Kids here come from all sorts of situations,” she said. “It’s amazing how well they can adapt with a little structure in their lives.”

Administrators at the school did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The school offers an Adelphoi Promise Program, a competitive scholarship program that provides selected students with two years of tuition-free education at an affiliated community college plus financial assistance for books and supplies. Consideration is open to any student enrolled in the Ketterer school or any Adelphoi-affiliated school for at least one semester.

Ketterer’s average teacher pay is $36,269 a year, third lowest in the state.

Matt Faye was a Trib Total Media summer intern.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Emily at 412-871-2369, emilybalser@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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