Medora goes high-tech in search of students



In hopes of increasing enrollment, the second-smallest public school corporation in the state is starting a virtual academy.

Medora Community School Corp. is partnering with VLN Partners of Pittsburgh in forming the Medora Virtual Academy.

Students locally and around the state will take online courses through the academy and receive a diploma from Medora High School if they graduate, Superintendent Roger Bane said during Thursday’s special meeting of the school board.

The four trustees present for the meeting unanimously approved the virtual academy.

Bane recently met with VLN officials to put the finishing touches on the program, which the district hopes to have in place before the Sept. 18 student count date.

“I’m willing to try it and see what it does. If it does work, it will pay off as far as student head count,” board President Joe Campbell said.

“If we get two students, it pays off,” trustee Larry Osborn added.

As of Thursday, Medora’s average daily enrollment for kindergarten through 12th grade was 217, which is down from 235½ in February. Bane said kindergartners now count as a whole number instead of half.

A few students have left Medora for academic or athletic reasons, school officials said. That’s despite the schools improving their accountability grades in 2014, with the junior-senior high receiving a D after four straight F’s and the elementary going from a D to a B.

VLN helps school districts by offering customized solutions that transform their curriculum into interactive virtual learning opportunities, according to the company’s website.

The annual fee is $8,375. Bane said that money either would come out of the Booker Foundation, which is a school fund set aside for technology, or would be split between that fund and the capital projects fund.

For full-time students, it would be at no cost. But if they choose to just take one yearlong class, the cost would be $650.

Bane said the corporation would develop five classes. If it goes above that number, the fee would increase.

“Each year, we can develop five more (classes),” Bane said.

VLN also offers 25 spots for free credit recovery classes, which Bane said is good because the corporation has had to pay other schools for those in the past.

Marketing of the program is included in the contract, Bane said.

Trustees John Hughes and Faythe Gill both said they thought the virtual academy would be good for home-schooled students to join.

Bane said that, if for some reason the program doesn’t pan out, the district can opt out of the contract with a 90-day notice.

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