EPS approves virtual middle, high school

EVART — Evart Public Schools students now will have the option of completing courses from home after the board of education approved a waiver on Monday that excuses students from class time.

The Michigan Department of Education granted the district’s request for a seat time waiver, which permits students to complete their courses without fulfilling the typically required number of instructional hours spent in school. During a regular meeting on Monday, the board unanimously approved the waiver.

“We want to accommodate kids who need to be off-campus to do their studies,” said Evart High School Principal Dennis Peacock. “There has been a push for the idea of ‘any time, any place, any way’ for kids’ education. ... (Some students) need an opportunity to continue their education, but they can’t be restricted by the traditional time and place of face-to-face

delivery.”

Middle and high school students will have the option of completing their work from home through APEX Learning, an online curriculum. Students still must take a full course-load, contact the supervising teacher at least once a week and report to school to take tests. Two teachers will be designated to supervise the online learning for three periods every school day.

“(Students) win because they get a public school diploma, and we get a little perk because we end up with the (full per pupil allotment),” Peacock said.

Public schools receive $7,026 per student in state aid for the 2013-14 school year, and students enrolled in the online program bring in the same aid payment.

To start, five students will enroll in EPS’ online school. The program will offer flexibility for students with children, jobs, who have extenuating medical or behavioral issues or who have trouble being successful in a traditional classroom for any reason. Students must apply to the cyber-program and gain administrators’ approval.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board:

  •  Finalized a contract with the Evart Transportation Professionals that switched the insurance carrier for five employees;
  •  Approved a district-wide “Bring Your Own Device” policy that outlined parameters for students using personal technology in class; and
  •  Accepted the retirement of Marta Carmichael, who has been the central office secretary for almost 26 years, and the resignation of Cindy Gudding, the elementary educational assistant, which is a Title I aide position.

Superintendent Howard Hyde also discussed the need to repair Evart High School’s gym roof. Recent storms damaged the shingles, which led to the district collecting about $15,000 in insurance money.

Hyde hopes to use those funds as well as money from the pending sale of the alternative school building to repair the roof.

“I think we can apply that (money) to putting a rubber membrane on rather than just shingles, because that hasn’t worked,” he said.

Preliminary student enrollment counts show the district has 28 students more than expected this school year, which would mean additional per pupil revenue, but Hyde is hesitant to plan on those funds until count day numbers are finalized in October.