The Goodhue County Education District Board voted 5-0 at its meeting Thursday evening to give the go-ahead to create a mid-level alternative learning center for the 2013-14 school year.

The new ALC would serve up to 12 middle school students, GCED Director Cherie Johnson said.

The program likely would serve students struggling in traditional middle school settings.

By establishing a middle school ALC, the GCED member districts would then be eligible for increased state funding for targeted services for elementary students. All member districts would be eligible for this extra funding, even if they do not actually send students to the new ALC, Johnson said.

"It's an opportunity to provide service to those kiddos," she said. "The earlier we get in and start addressing these issues, the better chance we have of closing the gaps."

The new ALC would be housed in one of GCED's five member districts -- Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Red Wing and Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Johnson declined to say which district that would be, but did say that the majority of students attending the ALC students would probably come from Red Wing.

The board's vote also approved a full-time teacher for the ALC.