Shelbyville Central Schools is one step closer towards adding a virtual school as a result of Wednesday’s special business meeting.
The school board approved a resolution to create a virtual education school that will be submitted to the state for approval.
At the end of the work session, which followed the meeting, board member David Finkel made an interesting observation about the decision the board had made.
“How cool is it as a board, we started a preschool and a virtual school,” he said.
SCS opened the Golden Bear Preschool in 2019.
On Wednesday, the board approved the on boarding parent guide, which provides details on the requirements for students who eventually enroll in the virtual school.
The school will be available for students in grades kindergarten through 11th grade and students both currently enrolled at SCS as well as out-of-district students will be eligible.
Board member Dr. James Rees asked for clarification that out-of-district students will be required to attend in person if they fail to perform up to the standards at the virtual school and Superintendent Mary Harper confirmed that they would.
She went onto say that those students will be required to be on-site for several assessments, as per required by the state and by the district.
Some parents might be willing to drive an hour or more, she said, while others will choose a school closer to home.
The parent guide outlines important information for families.
All students will be required to be in school five days a week.
Students in grades first through fourth will be required to be in school 3-4 hours; those in fifth and sixth grade must complete 4-5 hours; those in seventh and eighth grade must complete 5-6 hours; and those in grades 9-12 must complete 5-7 hours.
Shelbyville intends to use Edgenuity, an Indiana aligned curriculum, that will be led by teachers. Those teachers will be paid through an outside contract.
The virtual school will be capped at 300 students based on discussions that Andy Snow, who will be the director, had with other school districts. Schools that had more than 300 students needed full-time staff, Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Miltz said.
Miltz said that they plan to have applications available as early as next week. SCS is putting together a newsletter for students who left the district for the other schools in Shelby County in an effort to entice them to return.
She added that Snow has been a “real champion” in helping the district adjust this school year to virtual learning.
Harper said that she had spoken with virtual teachers in the district over the past two weeks and was comforted by what they had to say.
“They’re confident that this could be successful,” she said. “Again, I think they would rather have students all in person, but COVID changed a lot of things and if we can offer a virtual option, I think we can do it better than anyone else.”