Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2008

De Soto board OKs virtual program

April 30, 2008

De Soto USD 232 students soon won't have to go to other districts for virtual-learning programs.

The Board of Education at its special meeting Monday approved 6-0 five items the district administration deemed were needed for the next school year with the understanding that they may be paid for out of the district's reserves if there is no room left in the 2008-09 budget.

The items include a Tru-Time card reader to let employees log in and out of work, Virtual Prescriptive Learning software for coursework, materials to support the implementation of Multi-Tiered System of Support, vocational program improvements, and the ability to post individual education programs on Skyward, the Web-site that gives students and their parents access to school-related information. The price tag for all the items is estimated at $220,000.

Board member Randy Johnson questioned the need for virtual learning programs.

"This is an issue where we thought we were woefully underserving some of our students," superintendent Sharon Zoellner said.

Learning services director Bret Church said the service and software provided by the Education Service Center-Greenbush would be a one-time cost of $60,000. However, it would cost about $2,500 to $3,000 to maintain each year.

Church said the program could be used for alternative coursework, accelerated course offerings, summer school courses, college preparatory courses and credit recovery. Eventually it could also include an adult education curriculum for high school diploma completion.

Currently, patrons are paying other districts for credit recovery since the De Soto district only offers summer school in the areas of math and reading, Church said. He estimated patrons were paying between $24,000 and $26,000 per year to other districts for virtual programs.

"We could receive that money in our district to provide that service," he said.

Board member Bill Fletcher asked if the virtual program would require additional staff members. De Soto High School principal David Morford said it would not and it could be placed in any room.

Board members first voted 7-0 on all items excluding the virtual learning program. Board member Larry Meyer left the room during the vote on the virtual learning program. He was trying to avoid a conflict of interest since the company he works for markets the program.

The next Board of Education meeting will be at 6 p.m. May 5 at the District Administrative Building, 35200 W. 91st St., De Soto.

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