District seeking state approval for plan
The Lakeville Area School District is seeking state approval to break through its physical boundaries next year.
After nearly four years of preparation, the district has applied to debut “Link12” a comprehensive, full-time K-12 online learning program this fall.
The request for the district to become an online learning provider was submitted to the state this week, and a response must be received within 90 days.
Lakeville Schools Superintendent Lisa Snyder said if the state approves the plan, Lakeville will be the first district in the metro to offer a full-time virtual education option.
“It’s part of our vision of personalized learning for all students,” Snyder said. “One size doesn’t fit all anymore.”
Snyder said the program, if approved, would allow the potential for a student to graduate from Lakeville schools without ever having set foot in one of its schools.
Students will also be accepted from other districts.
The virtual program would allow a flexible learning option for students who are involved in high levels of training to pursue goals like competing in the Olympics or seeking a career as a professional dancer.
Emily McDonald, PK-12 Teaching and Learning coordinator, said while the classes would allow flexibility, they would still be of a high-quality, rigorous nature and each class size would be limited to 40 students.
Courses proposed to be offered are social studies, language arts, math and science and would utilize District 194 curriculum.
Electives include physical education, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, health, art for K-5, music and career investigations for senior high students.
Teachers would conduct classes using a “learning management system,” that could include PowerPoint presentations, links to videos and lectures and discussion threads to conduct class.
Special needs students would be provided a case manager who would connect with them online and provide support, and services like speech therapy could be provided through online programming, in-home services or in a clinic or office.
Additional per-pupil funding generated would help pay teachers’ stipends and provide students with a Google Chromebook.
Online students would also receive a Gmail account, Google Docs and access to a learning management system.
McDonald said the program could help return some of the per-pupil funding the district loses when in-district students seek other educational options.
According to Snyder, the district receives about $9,000 per pupil in state and local levy funding, making the district’s additional revenue potential $18.1 million just for 2,016 in-district students who either homeschool, attend private schools or open enroll elsewhere.
“We want to increase enrollment in our district and we want to retain the students we have,” McDonald said. “Students are seeking a flexible option. We want to be able to provide that for them here in Lakeville.”
Online-only students would have to pass all state-sponsored tests, and those results would serve as a “huge red flag” if a virtual student were cheating the system and not actually doing the work, Snyder said.
They would also be eligible to enroll in district sports and activities.
McDonald said since the state approval would likely come sometime in July, the district will “be ready to hit the ground running” as soon as it comes.
“This is in line with where we want to be long term,” McDonald said. “And that is to serve our students in our community and beyond at a very high level as well as maybe generate some additional revenue for this district.”