When a student leaves the Warren County School District for a cyber school, the district loses funding and oversight over that student's progress.
For several years, the WCSD has offered a cyber school option that officially keeps the student part of the district. However, the educational process was outsourced to an existing cyber school and its teachers.
Starting this year, the district will offer a cyber option for students in grades six through 12 that is backed by district teachers and aligned to state standards.
Pearson provides the cyber platform for the district's offering, but "underneath it all, you're working with the district," said Peggy Bernard of Pearson's Connections Learning.
Interactive, live lesson sessions are held about once per week. During those lessons, students will be able to speak and be heard live, as well as typing instant messages. "You can actually see the teacher speaking to you," said Misty Weber, the Warren County School District's online learning principal.
"The teacher is responding and the kids are interacting live," Bernard said.
Other lessons are delivered in a purely online fashion. "It's a rigorous program," she said. "Your student is going to be expected to do some independent work daily."
The program includes links to interactive materials, online textbooks, and other media. "If there are any materials required, they are included and will be shipped to you," Bernard said.
"If you go into the Warren County School District Virtual Academy, you are still part of Warren County School District," Bernard said.
Warren County families who choose the local cyber school for their students will be able to meet, in person, with their teachers.
"You have support in the areas that you live," Weber said. "We're more than willing to come out if you're having trouble making it in."
Also, as part of the district, students may participate in district events, from field trips to athletics and co-curricular activities, and will receive a Warren County School District diploma on graduation.
There are online clubs offered through the cyber program. Popular choices are chess and robotics.
Blended education is also possible. Students may take some courses in a brick-and-mortar setting and others online. "A lot of kids go to the Career Center," Online Coordinator Neal Kent said.
A Live Tutor option allows students who need some help to reach a certified teacher. "They can Instant Message or call and get a certified teacher to get them unstuck," Bernard said. "It's not 24/7, but they are generous hours."
Several local families, many of whom already have children enrolled in cyber schools, attended a pair of informational meetings Monday. "I sent out about 100 invitations to students who have left the district for cyber schools throughout the state," Weber said.
"Misty and I had started this conversation over lost children," Bernard said. "She was looking for ways to combat that."
For now, the district's kindergarten through fifth grade online option is outsourced to Pearson's Connections Learning. Weber said she hopes to offer local cyber school for those grades in the future.
"I am excited about this upcoming year and hope to expand course offerings in the future," she said.