Online school to share building with Broadway Elementary

Grande River Virtual Academy will move into four empty classrooms this fall at Broadway Elementary School.

Broadway’s dwindling student population prompted the move. The elementary school has room for 418 students but finished the 2011–12 school year with 194 students.

Meanwhile, Grande River’s staff of five teachers and a half-time special education teacher has been crammed into a modular unit behind the Emerson Building at Ute Avenue and Ninth Street since the district’s first online school opened as a kindergarten through 12th- grade program last fall.

District 51 considered filling open space at Broadway with students from fellow Redlands school Scenic Elementary or busing south Fruita students who currently attend Shelledy Elementary to Broadway, but nixed those ideas this spring.

Instead, the virtual academy will take over unused space by moving into four classrooms on the southeast end of the school.

The rooms have external doors, and accordion walls that separate the rooms from the rest of the school will be replaced by solid walls, according to Broadway Principal Sharon Kallus.

“The vision is they will open here Aug. 20 like any other (District 51) school,” she said.

Kallus will become principal of both Broadway and Grande River this fall. Former Grande River Principal Pat Chapin has taken a job as principal of the Career Center.

Kallus said parents have been notified of the change and had an opportunity to ask questions at a parent meeting two weeks ago. Four families attended that meeting.

District 51 Academic Options Director Ron Roybal said the virtual academy’s new spot will allow staff to spread out more and optimize use of Broadway’s square footage.

“We’re trying to utilize our space as efficiently as possible,” he said.

Grande River students conduct most of their learning at home on a computer but can participate in classes and extracurricular activities at their neighborhood school, meet in groups at spots around town and seek tutoring or come in for short lessons at the academy’s physical location.

Roybal said about five to 10 students may be scheduled to come to classrooms at Broadway per day while the rest of Grande River’s population of 180 students and growing stays home.

“It won’t look at all like school’s in session,” Roybal said of the four-classroom area.

Roybal said he’s unsure what the district will do with the modular that now houses the virtual academy.


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