Monday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education got its first look at the new prison school at the Spring Creek Correctional Center.
School board members and district administrators toured the new class in a detention block at the maximum security prison. They found it a grim place.
"It was kind of a bummer, because they are so young," said board Vice President Debra Mullins.
The school, which began classes about four weeks ago and is still organizing, serves about 30 male inmates, ages 17 to 20. The young men are required to attend, even the few who have high school diplomas or General Equivalency Degrees, she said.
The prison has segregated the young inmates from the older men and moved them into their own cell block, where they attend class in the commons area.
"They eat there, they sleep there, and they go to school there," Mullins said. "They are trying to segregate the youth."
Five days a week, the young men receive high school instruction from two regular and one special education teacher. On Saturdays, prison teachers instruct them in life skills.
"And they also have guards that attend all the sessions," she said.
The board members had an opportunity to speak to some of the students and got mixed reactions.
Mullins said two of the inmates discussed the school option at some length. One expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity, while the other deemed it a waste of time.
"So you had two different versions sitting at the same table," she said.
"I was happy at least some of the kids are taking the effort to finish their education."
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