Area Learning Center

We provide Alternate Education Services for students of many of the surrounding school districts.

“The legislature finds that it is critical to provide options for children to succeed in school. Therefore, the purpose of this section is to provide incentives for and encourage all Minnesota students who have experienced or are experiencing difficulty in the traditional education system to enroll in alternative programs.” (MN Statute 124D.68)

How we serve

  • Students can earn a diploma from their resident district.
  • The ALC has smaller class sizes (10-16) students per room.
  • Students focus on 1-3 classes at a time rather than 6-8 classes.
  • Students do not have homework and are encouraged to complete work daily.
  • Students will work with their high school counselor for progress toward graduation.
  • Students may participate in resident district activities and sports.
  • Students may attend full time, part time or be dual enrolled (Classes at the ALC and their high school).
  • Students and teachers develop a learning plan that is customized for each student.
  • The ALC focuses on the learning styles and needs of each student.
  • An Independent Study program is available for students age 16 or older.
  • Students can attend summer school for credit recovery and return to their home school.
  • The ALC curriculum is similar to each student’s home school curriculum.
  • Students can receive immediate assistance with assignments.

Who we serve

Students who are 13 to 21 years of age (or 22 if in special education) and one of the following is true for the student.  He/she:

  • performs substantially below the performance level for pupils of the same age in a locally determined achievement test;
  • is behind in satisfactorily completing coursework or obtaining credits for graduation;
  • is pregnant or is a parent;
  • has been assessed as chemically dependent;
  • has been excluded or expelled;
  • has been referred by a school district for enrollment in an eligible program ;
  • is a victim of physical or sexual abuse;
  • has experienced mental health problems;
  • has experienced homelessness sometime within six months before requesting a transfer to an eligible program;
  • speaks English as a second language or has limited English proficiency; or
  • has withdrawn from school or has been chronically truant.

To enroll and attend an ALC

School districts may refer students to the ALC. Parents can also refer their child if their child meets one of the above eligibility criteria.  Any eligible pupil may apply to enroll in an eligible program.

Approval of the resident district is not required for a state-approved alternative program established under section (MN Statute 123A.05).

For more information please contact your local principal, guidance counselor or contact us directly.


Our welcome & start letters and calendars are displayed on the right side of this page.

River Valley Academy

River Valley Academy (RVA) is a state approved alternative high school that offers students a "second chance" at earning a high school diploma. Our mission is to promote an education that advocates respect for individuals, allows for modifications to accommodate individual needs, and encourages participation in the home, school and community.

RVA is one of hundreds of alternative schools in Minnesota. Some are located right inside a regular school building, some are in commercial buildings, but ours is in a former elementary school in Kellogg. While the school building is located within the Wabasha-Kellogg school district, it is operated by Hiawatha Valley Education District, which is headquartered in Winona. RVA serves all students in Wabasha County. Students come from three districts: Elgin-Millville, Plainview, and Wabasha-Kellogg.

In the late 80's, the state recognized the need to establish alternatives to traditional schools. Research showed that people learn differently, and legislators and educators had good ideas on how to reach those students who were not so successful in traditional schools. One of the new options established by the state was open enrollment. Another was post-secondary education. And one option- our personal favorite - was alternative learning centers.

Later, charter schools were added to the list. Prior to November 2000, there were three small learning centers in Wabasha County, one in Lake City, one in Wabasha, and one in Plainview, as well as a county day treatment program located in Wabasha. Future-oriented school and county representatives, while brain-storming ideas on how to maximize resources, decided to combine the existing learning centers onto one site - one that could include the day treatment center as well as a new daycare center meant to serve both teen parents and community families.

RVA opened its doors on November 14, 2000. There are currently about 60 students enrolled during the day, but more than 200 are served in a year's time. RVA programs include day school, dual-enrolled students (who come after spending the day in their home school), and summer school students.

Enrollment takes place any time there is a need and there is room. Students and their families can refer themselves to the alternative school, but they are encouraged to work through their home school.

Student Reporting in State Approved Alternative Programs (SAAPs) Extended Learning Programs

Date:   January 15, 2015

To:       Directors of State Approved Alternative Programs

From:  Mary Barrie

Alternative Programs Specialist

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Re:      Student Reporting in State Approved Alternative Programs (SAAPs) Extended Learning Programs


In preparation for the July 1, 2015 legislative report, several issues have arisen that directors should be made aware of. There was a proposal to eliminate extended learning funding (our after school and summer programs) in the 2013 legislative session. This was not eliminated but the legislature put a provision in statute that they be informed of how this money was being spent.

This memo serves to clarify several issues:

·         Targeted Services:

o   Targeted Services programs are designed only for at-risk students as defined in §124D.68 (see attached). Districts that eliminate certain enrichment classes during the core school day, such as art or music, and move them to after-school cannot report participation in them as a Targeted Services extended learning program. These activities can be placed in a summer school or after school program that is not reported as Targeted Services and funded with community education dollars.

o   Targeted Services can only be provided outside the core, required school year and day. Districts cannot fund part of the core school day with revenue generated by Targeted Services or other alternative programs.

o   Revenue generated by Targeted Services programs must be spent only on the programs that generated the revenue. A district cannot report students who are not at-risk as Targeted Services students and cannot use Targeted Services dollars to support those programs. Targeted Services is designed to level the playing field for our at-risk students and to provide them with support so that they may graduate on time with their peers. It is not designed as a funding source for enrichment programs for students who are at or above grade level.

o   In statute, districts are allowed to refer a student who they feel may benefit from the alternative program. This will be a rare occurrence for a student that does not fit one of the other criteria as listed in the above statute. However, the referral would be to an alternative program that was designed to help at-risk students achieve the skills they needed to be on track to graduate with their peers. It would not, for example, be so that all district students could take music lessons. The program to which a student is referred should address the at-risk criteria for which the student was referred. For example, if the student has mental health issues, the alternative program should address those issues.

o   Membership can be generated only for time students are scheduled to attend and participate in instructional activities. Each student should have a schedule of expected participation. A district cannot run a program three days a week and have students coming once a week yet claim membership for all three days. If students are to attend only one of the three days, districts can claim membership for only the one day that the student participates.

·         Credit Bearing Programs:

o   Independent Study programs can only generate membership hours based on credit completion and teacher contact time.

o   No alternative program membership can be claimed for students taking credit bearing courses during the extended learning program because they are not able to fit them into their core school day. For example:

§  Students choosing to take additional electives during the core school day and are then unable to fit in classes required for graduation cannot generate membership in the extended learning program.

§  Students participating in programs or courses which may have additional requirements and so are not able to fit in required classes such as Physical Education or Health into their schedules cannot generate membership in the extended learning program.

Please ensure that your program is following the guidelines and expectations of the funding so that we can show it is being used to help our at-risk students achieve the skills they need to graduate on time with their peers. It is not a funding source to provide programs for students who are already on track for graduation.

For more information, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Thanks for all you do with our students and to ensure the integrity of our programs.

Additional information