Updated Mon, Aug 5, 2013 8:09 am
In an effort to provide additional schooling options to some of its students, Alexander Local Schools is now able to offer some classes online.
For now, Supt. Jeff Cullum expects to offer the service primarily to students who need credits to graduate. Down the line, as state assessments migrate to the virtual world, the new program could potentially have every student taking at least one class online.
Every year, Cullum said, the district has students who are credit deficient either because they failed to attend school or struggled with a class. To get the credits to graduate, historically, those students would have enrolled in summer school through the Athens City School District, as Alexander doesn’t offer summer school. Now, they don’t have to.
“We’re trying to do something in-house,” Cullum said. “That’s what got us started.”
By using the system called A+, which is run by Oklahoma-based K12 Management, Inc., the district’s curriculum director can create the necessary courses for the student.
Cullum had his first credit-recovering student enroll this summer and assigned the school’s guidance counselor as his primary contact.
With time, Cullum said he anticipates offering other students the option of taking classes not currently taught at the school. For example, one of his students has requested to take psychology.
“We’re not big enough to hire an extra person, so that student can take that class online,” Cullum said.
The program will also help elementary school students who are subject accelerated, meaning they may be in the first grade but take second-grade math. In the past, those students had to leave their first-grade classroom to take the advanced math, but many times there were scheduling conflicts between classroom teachers. With the new program, it won’t be necessary for the student to go classroom hopping.
While the program is still in its infancy, Cullum said it could grow in popularity to the point of reversing the trend of students leaving the district to enroll in an online charter school, like ECOT.
When a student leaves the district to enroll in a charter school, the state and local dollars generated to educate that child go, too, Cullum explained. It’s estimated the school loses $180,000 annually.
Although the program costs about $20,000 per year, Cullum says it will pay for itself if just four students stay with the district.
Cullum was quick to say he’s not trying to replace his school with an online program.
“It will just provide another option based on the individual needs of a student,” he said.