Elementary and middle school students whose parents are seeking a customized learning pace while still enjoying on-campus activities such as band and field trips can enroll in a new online school in Galt.
For the first time, the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District is offering the Galt Virtual Academy for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The online school is part of the district’s new Bright Future for Galt Students Race To The Top federal grant. The district is one of only three districts in California to receive the grant. The U.S. Department of Education awarded these grants to only 16 districts out of 300 applicants.
“We believe learning should be personalized through a variety of learning approaches and tools. We are implementing a blended learning model with online learning that is combined with school location opportunities,” Superintendent Karen Schauer said. “We are thrilled that we can offer this educational option to serve students.”
Certified teachers will work with students to develop key skills for life-long success, according to Schauer.
“Students deserve this high-quality public school option, and we look forward to helping them succeed,” she said.
Curriculum and other services will be contracted by Connections Learning by Pearson, a division of Connection Education that is accredited by AdvancED, which provides online and blended learning.
The Galt Virtual Academy will have a strong focus on academics and will foster an appreciation of lifelong learning, according to the district.
Students will have access to core academic courses such as language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and a wide array of electives, giving them opportunities to explore different subjects — such as the first-of-its-kind Juilliard eLearning music program.
Online foreign language courses — including Spanish and German — have been integrated into the elective offerings at McCaffrey Middle School.
Robert Nacario, the district’s director of educational services, said students attending the virtual academy full-time will not cost the district any additional money even after the Race to the Top grant is exhausted in five years. The cost to educate a student enrolled in a full-time virtual setting is less than what the school district receives in per pupil funding, he said.
The academy has a budget for up to 50 single courses taught by Connection Education at each site at $750 per course for each year of the grant. The district also budgeted for courses taught by its own teachers, up to 150 per year at $110 per course.
“By the time the grant expires, it is our hope that our district grows in enrollment because we will be among the first in the state to offer a blended learning environment,” Nacario said. “While there will always be room for a partner for full-time virtual learning students, I foresee that every teacher — whether in Galt or elsewhere — will have added virtual learning to their teaching toolbox and blended learning will be common practice.” Enrollment is open for the 2013-14 school year. For more information, visit www.galt.k12.ca.us or call 209-744-4555.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.