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Since enrolling at CrossRoads School in Medford three years ago, 10th-grader Kolbelynn McKune says he has earned straight A's and learned ways to stop blowing up at others when his autism-related noise sensitivity is aggravated.

McKune attributes his success at the school to the small class sizes of about 10 pupils and immediate access to counselors.

Next year, he said, he doesn't know where he will attend school.

After 20 years of offering an alternative education and a support system for at-risk youths in middle school and high school in Jackson County, CrossRoads School shut its doors for good Friday due to insufficient funding and enrollment.

"Even though I've learned coping skills, it would be hard to go to a regular high school," McKune said. "Thousands of people in one school would be very overwhelming for someone like me."

Over the years, school districts such as Ashland, Eagle Point, Medford and Phoenix-Talent have opened their own alternative schools, which has bled CrossRoads' enrollment and along with it, funding for operations.

However, none of the other alternative campuses offer the on-site drug and alcohol counseling and mental-health treatment services that CrossRoads did. The school operated through the nonprofit Community Works.

"Two-thirds of our students will do fine in a mainstream school," said CrossRoads Administrator Greg Huston. "My concern is the one-third that have needs the school districts can't meet."

There are a couple of kids who, without CrossRoads, probably need a mental health placement, Huston said. Others are considered special education students under the "emotionally disturbed" category, which impedes their learning, he said.

"They often have emotional outbursts during the school day and need a professional to help them with those issues during the day," he said.

School districts are making plans for how they will accommodate CrossRoads students who return to their home districts next fall.

The Ashland School District plans to bring the three students enrolled at CrossRoads back into district programs. Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said the district has volunteer mental health counselors, and it also contracts with Medford's OnTrack substance abuse treatment center to treat students outside of school, but treatment is not an integrated part of the school day as it has been at CrossRoads.

"CrossRoads does provide a service to students we currently are not set up to provide," she said.

"We are all scrambling to find out what we can do for these kids internally," said Doug McKenzie, Eagle Point schools special education director. McKenzie said he will meet with principals this summer to discuss options.

"There is kind of a void," he said.

Jani Hale, principal of Phoenix High School, said the nine Phoenix students who attended CrossRoads this year would go either to Phoenix High or Armadillo Technical Institute, possibly with extra support if they need it. For more severely disturbed students, home tutoring might be the school district's only option, Hale said.

CrossRoads began in 1988, offering high school diploma equivalency programs to pregnant and parenting teens. In 1992, CrossRoads became an accredited alternative school, offering mental-health counseling, small-group instruction and drug and alcohol counseling.

Students were referred to CrossRoads by Jackson County schools. Each referral brought CrossRoads 80 percent of that student's state funding allotment.

CrossRoads once had enrollments as high as 200, Huston said. This school year, CrossRoads had an enrollment of about 25 and was operating on a $51,000 deficit due to insufficient enrollment.

"The teachers took more time (at CrossRoads) to recognize what was wrong with every individual," said eighth-grader Kayla Anderson, who was referred to CrossRoads after getting into fights at McLoughlin Middle School. "They helped you with that and school and home issues. I really liked this school. It sucks it's closing down because there doesn't seem to be another good place to go."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

Kayla Anderson, 14, will be looking for a new High School after Crossroads School closes its doors Friday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch