Alabaster adding virtual option for some students

Published 12:50 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Alabaster City School System likely will begin offering virtual classroom programs this summer. (Contributed)

The Alabaster City School System likely will begin offering virtual classroom programs this summer. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Following a law passed by the Alabama Legislature during its 2015 session, the Alabaster City School System will add virtual classroom options for some students beginning this summer.

The city’s Board of Education voted unanimously during its Dec. 15 meeting to approve the Edgenuity company as the vendor for the school system’s virtual learning offerings.

“A new law was passed by the Legislature during its last session requiring each school system to have a virtual school offering,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said during the meeting. “This is part of our plan to offer those services.”

ACS decided to go with the Edgenuity company after the school system’s Technology Coordinator, Anthony Kingston, formed a committee to research the virtual classroom options available to the system and a made a recommendation to the School Board.

“We looked at three other providers, and we felt Edgenuity was the best company to meet our needs,” Kingston said.

According to the bill passed by the Legislature, all school systems must enact virtual school programs offering “students in grades nine to 12, inclusive, an online pathway for earning a high school diploma,” and must enact the programs before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

After the School Board approved the vendor, acting ACS Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Mark Gray and Curriculum and Instruction Program Specialist Amy Fineburg began working to determine the structure of the school system’s virtual offerings, Kingston said.

“We would like to implement it for summer school (in 2016),” Kingston said. “We’ve approved a vendor, now we’re moving on to the next phase of determining which students can take par, what the requirements are and so forth.”

The virtual program likely will be used for remediation and to allow students unable to attend school to stay current on their classwork. Advanced Placement classes also likely will be included, Kingston said.

ACS is preparing to conduct a survey of students in the spring to gauge interest in the virtual program before finalizing the program’s parameters, Kingston said. Once the program structure is finalized, the School Board will vote on the final cost of funding it.