District 51 online school passes pilot test, expands

After one year as a pilot program, Grande River Virtual Academy officially will become a part of School District 51’s permanent academic options this fall.

The online school debuted in fall 2010 as a program for ninth- through 12th-graders who had previously dropped out of school.

This fall, the program will be offered to all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The school uses an online curriculum called K12, and it grants students access to District 51 teachers when they have questions about a class.

Students also can participate in sports, classes and music programs at their neighborhood schools, as with any online program, and participate in Grande River clubs, dances and outings, according to District 51 Academic Options Director Ron Roybal.

“We’re not the only ones doing online school, but we’re making an effort to personalize it,” Roybal said.

Three District 51 teachers are available for Grande River students to talk to this year. Next year, the program will hire new teachers who will work for the program full time.

The number of teachers, who will teach multiple elementary grades or teach numerous courses in one subject at the secondary level, will depend on the number of applicants to the school.

Funding for the program will depend on per student revenue that comes from the state.

Roybal said he has heard plenty of interest in the school from parents of children of all grade levels, and he expects registration, which is now open, to bring in plenty of students.

To register, parents can call Roybal’s executive assistant, Denice Cording-Laird, at 254-5343.

The pilot program still has about a dozen students enrolled from an original count of 37. The students who left the program returned to brick-and-mortar schools.


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