The number of Elizabethtown Area School District students participating in an in-house online learning program has doubled over the past five years, according to a report given to the school board.
Since 2012, the district has taken part in the Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Solutions program run by the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 as an alternative to cyber charter schools. Administrators say that not only are students learning, but the district has saved a significant amount of money in fees that would have been paid to outside vendors.
Presenting the information to the school board on Tuesday, Nov. 21, were Richard Schwarzman, assistant to the superintendent for student support services and compliance, and Kathleen Griffith, high school assistant principal and program administrator for educational alternatives.
In the 2016-17 school year, 106 students took part in LLVS, compared to 52 in 2012-13. Of the 106 students, 86 were full-time. The cost for those full-time students at outside cyber schools would have been $880,639. With the LLVS, the cost was $231,774.10, with a “cost avoidance” of $648,864.90. For the 2017-18 school year, $245,000 is budgeted.
Griffith said that of the 16 IU districts in the LLVS, Elizabethtown is the third largest, behind School District of Lancaster and Hempfield.
Griffith said that with outside cyber schools, students were earning very few credits compared to traditional students. “At the E-town LLVS, student learning is happening,” she said.
Over five years, the number of courses taken has increased, from 571 to 1,060. The program serves students who need something different than what a brick-and-mortar school offers, Schwarzman said. There may be medical or learning needs or course conflicts. And some students take online courses in order to follow such pursuits as figure skating and gymnastics.
With outside cyber schools, students are withdrawn from the district and do not receive district services, Griffith noted. With LLVC, district staff works with the students, some of whom attend school while taking online courses.
“We tailor it to meet their educational needs and put the supports in place so that they will be successful,” Griffith said.
School board members also heard Amanda Hann, assistant to the superintendent for learning, discuss the district’s School Performance Profile, an annual grading done by the state.
Highlights include the high school’s 2017 score of 91.6, compared to 74.6 five years ago. Mill Road Elementary School’s score, however, declined to 61.2, from 78.30 last year. One possible factor was reducing staff to fill needs elsewhere in the district. Also, Hann reported, three-year averages for 12 out of 15 subject/grade levels in math, English language arts and science showed academic growth.
The school board also authorized the Elizabethtown Fair board to renovate the fairground stage at no cost to the district, as requested at the Nov. 13 workshop meeting.
Recognition was also given to outgoing board members Robert Cronin, Ronald Grenko, Christopher Olnick and Jeffrey Phillips. The board’s reorganization/workshop meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the high school.
The board also approved expulsions for three students. Offenses were possession of controlled substances and tobacco and possession of a weapon. Knives had been found on two of the students in October.
The board also approved policies regarding immunization and communicable diseases, diabetes management and food services.