Cloverdale board approves new online academy

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

CLOVERDALE -- Students in the Cloverdale district wanting to expand their courses, as well as those who may be more successful in learning online, now have an option to do so.

During its regular meeting Monday evening, the Cloverdale School Board approved for Cloverdale Schools to begin offering what has been dubbed as the Cloverdale Virtual Success Academy.

The program will be offered through the Edmentum Learning Environment, more specifically its EdOptions Academy. The mission of the online school is to provide fully accredited courses in a variety of subjects.

Beginning a joint pitch to the board, Superintendent Greg Linton said administrators had worked on the program for the past 18 months. With the COVID-19 spread, he added that the circumstances it brought showed a need for an online avenue for students.

Cloverdale High School Principal Sonny Stoltz then put the need for an online academy into perspective with regard to home-schooling, pointing out that more students are now being home-schooled for different reasons.

“High schools are pressured to be successful,” Stoltz said. He focused on how students who are home-schooled ultimately count against graduation rates. Another frustration is when a home-schooled student may enter the corporation and want to graduate, yet is behind.

A distinction both Linton and Stoltz emphasized was that the Virtual Success Academy is not the same as e-learning. The idea is to give Cloverdale students flexibility, they said, while still providing services for counseling and special education needs.

Stoltz said the Virtual Success Academy is all about options. The academy would offer 280 semester-long virtual courses and take in full-time or part-time students. This allows the opportunity for parents to still retain home-based schooling, but still be in the corporation.

Those eligible include home-schooled and homebound students, as well as those in credit recovery.

The academy would also be available for students wanting to diversify their course loads, and those who have documented medical or emotional issues that would hinder success in the classroom.

The breakdown for kindergarten through the fifth grade would be for students to have four core classes and two elective courses per grade. For grades six through 12, six online courses would cover a semester. Stoltz added that the 18-week courses match up with the regular nine-week grading periods.

One benefit of the program, Stoltz said, is it would allow students to enroll in courses he believes might not be offered in the future.

This would include teaching foreign languages such as Latin or Mandarin Chinese.

There would not have to be any commitments from the corporation to invest in full-year classes. This would help, considering the academy might not have more than 30 students starting out.

An application, which can be found in the school office or on CCSC’s webpage, must be completed by the student and a parent. An interview would then take place with the school’s principal, who would have discretion over whether a student enters into or can stay in the academy.

Stoltz believes the expectation to be online six hours a day and to complete all assignments would deter students hoping to just blow off school. This, he said, is what truly separates the online academy from e-learning.

Linton said the program would cost $2,900 per student, with the corporation being partially reimbursed. As such, no charge would be attached to the students.

Stoltz will be the academy’s principal, with two counselors covering grades 1-8 and 9-12, respectively. Teachers would be provided by EdOptions, however those within Cloverdale could apply to teach in the program.

The Cloverdale Virtual Success Academy is set to begin Aug. 12. It was also emphasized that only students within the Cloverdale School District would be allowed to apply.

In other business:

• The board also approved a request to authorize a notice for a hearing concerning proposed construction projects at all three Cloverdale schools. Linton said these would mainly address HVAC and electrical work to be completed next year.

Linton said the construction would likely require the corporation to sell bonds, but would remain tax neutral.

Board President Vivian Whitaker added that while caution is needed with finances, Cloverdale Schools needs to address these issues.

• Linton and the board also recognized Darin LaCoursiere and Endeavor Communications for providing Internet and Wi-Fi to needy students and their families during the closures.

• The board also approved a request by Food Services Director Billy Boyette to accept food service bids from West Indy Co-op.

The board also approved the following personnel report:

• Employment: Jim Spencer — CHS social studies teacher; Linda Collins, Mandy Goss and Gary Frazier — summer custodial cleaning;

• Hire: James Wade — CHS head girls’ basketball coach; and

• Volunteer: Elizabeth Spencer and Hannah Rady — CHS assistant volleyball coaches.

Board member Duane Huge was not present at the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Cloverdale School Board is scheduled to be held on Monday, July 13 at 7 p.m.

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