North Kitsap School District using online classes as a retention tool

POULSBO — Next fall students enrolled in the North Kitsap School District will not have to attend class. At least physically.

The school district will implement a pilot online learning program for the 2010-11 school year, which will be made available to students in grades kindergarten to 12.

North Kitsap is incorporating online learning to combat the increase of students transferring to other school districts that offer online classes said Patricia Moore, director of Elementary Education. A survey completed this year showed about 500 students left the North Kitsap School District. Of these students, 91 left to attend classes online, Moore said.

"Our superintendent wants to provide as many educational options for families in this area as possible, and this is one of them," Moore said.

Providing educational opportunities for students allows for a learning program that caters to individual needs and helps keep state funding for the district, Moore said. The amount of state funding a school district receives is based on the amount of students enrolled.

The school district receives $5,400 per student. A portion of those funds will be used to pay for the online services.

"Holding online classes is a way to bring back students we may have lost in the past," Moore said.

Students enrolled in online classes between kindergarten and eighth grade will be required to have monthly meetings with their teachers. The teachers will be trained in online advising, Moore said. Students who are enrolled in grades 9 through 12, will attend weekly online conferences using the Elluminate Live! software, which allows teachers and students to interact in a virtual classroom.

The school district will work with the K12 online learning program which began in 1999 and is based out of Herndon, Va. Teachers from K12 will work alongside the school district as the project gets under way.

The cost to run the online classes fluctuates depending on who teaches the classes. If North Kitsap teachers are trained to teach the classes, the cost will be $2,500 per student, if the district uses the K12 program teachers, the cost will be $4,800.

So far, the classes that are available to students who enroll online between kindergarten and eighth grade include language arts, math, science, history, art and music appreciation. For students above those grades many more classes are available, but the exact details are still being worked on, Moore said.

"There is still have a checklist of things to do before this thing can get rolling," Moore said.

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