The Lake Elsinore Unified School District will push ahead with plans to form an online charter school called Southern California Online Academy.
The board voted 5-0 Thursday to accept a 55-page petition that outlines how the school will operate.
The school, designed to provide a full line of courses online, will begin with a modest startup budget. Veronica Godinez will be principal.
The budget is built on a plan to start out with 10 teachers and 300 students. “We are advertising right now for students,” said George Landon, district assistant superintendent.
Tuition is free. School supplies for the program will be delivered to homes with enrolled children.
High school students will be enrolled in two courses every six to seven weeks and earn 10 credits in each course. They will complete the equivalent of 40 credits each semester.
Students will still be required to take state tests and final exams.
The central office for the online academy is at 1405 Education Way, Lake Elsinore.
The district is currently negotiating with teachers in regard to the academy program. Teachers will be treated the same and have the same kind of contracts whether they are at a school or teaching online academy students.
Kathleen Roberts, assistant superintendent, student support services, said the online academy provides exciting opportunities for students with medical issues and students who are socially distracted by being in a school classroom.
It will be a dependent charter school, which means the LEUSD will run it.
The school will not only be available to Lake Elsinore students, it will accept students in other nearby districts and counties. Students from Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, San Diego and Orange counties can enroll and participate.
However, only students within the district will be allowed to participate in district band, sports and other programs taking place at local schools, while taking the online courses. And students must agree to be full-time academy students in order to participate in programs at district schools.
When talking about the online academy, school officials refer to actual school activities as “brick and mortar” school programs. They point out that with an online academy, the Internet becomes the bus ride to school.
They point out that the program helps students learn how to manage time. And they stress that communication will be vital.
Students will need to check their e-mail and k-mail (kids e-mail) often to avoid missing important messages. Also, parents will need to monitor the progress of the students.
A council will be formed to operate the online school and make recommendations to district administrators and the board. Once the charter is granted, the district can begin hiring teachers.
Teachers for the online program will be fully credentialed, said Mark Dennis district coordinator of community and media relations. And the online school would meet school standards set up by the state.
Students and teachers will be able to communicate with one another through communication tools provided in the course delivery platform. Students will also be able to communicate with each other.
The program will also provide for field trips and labs where students can meet face to face. And students will find most of the same classes provided in a traditional school setting.
The online school is expected to open in August.