More students taking online classes in Solon Springs
Students in the Solon Springs school district have a high-tech option this year. The online curriculum offers students the flexibility of 24/7 classes via computer, with extra perks. Unlike open-enrolling in a charter school, using the district's...
Students in the Solon Springs school district have a high-tech option this year.
The online curriculum offers students the flexibility of 24/7 classes via computer, with extra perks. Unlike open-enrolling in a charter school, using the district’s program offers students the opportunity to blend the virtual offerings with in-class experiences and field trips. They can touch base with local teachers or guidance counselors if they need help. It also allows them to take part in extracurricular activities like sports.
The district began offering a virtual curriculum last year. Superintendent Michael Cox said two students took part in the program. As many as nine students are expected to enroll for virtual classes in the 2014-15 school year.
“We call it blended because in a lot of cases it’s not 100 percent virtual online,” Cox said.
One of the students who attended virtual classes last year was a sophomore. He took driver’s education courses with his classmates at Solon Springs High School. The rest of his classes were online. He also played football and baseball for the school.
“There are a lot of advantages to doing the blended program and still being part of the community,” Cox said.
Another of last year’s virtual students was a sixth-grader who took a high school biology course and got an A. Virtual schooling allows students to take advanced courses and still be involved with peers growing up, Cox said.
“It’s not for everyone,” he said. “It’s not an easy way out. It’s a tough program, but some kids seem to learn better that way.”
There is added work involved for staff as they chart student progress and make sure the virtual students aren’t lagging behind. There is a cost associated with offering the virtual classes, as well. The district pays for computers. But Cox said it’s worth it.
The district loses more than $7,000 in revenue for every student that enrolls outside the district. It costs about half that to offer them a local virtual option. And it’s good for the community, Cox added.
“We’re real interested in giving every student who grows up in the Solon Springs school district the opportunity to stay here, be involved to any limit they want to be and interact,” he said.
When Cox came to the district three years ago, he noticed about a dozen students had opted to enroll out of the district to attend virtual charter schools. It’s an area he knows a lot about. Cox headed the creation of a charter school in his previous position as superintendent of the Hayward school district. The Hayward program has expanded and now enrolls about 100 students annually.
“If schools don’t offer the opportunity, kids are opting to … enroll out,” the superintendent said. “In a small school like Solon, we can’t afford to lose many kids.”