Dayton Public to launch online school

Dayton Public Schools will launch an online school this fall with two main goals – preventing dropouts by offering a nontraditional model, and bringing back students who have left for other online schools, hurting district revenue.

The Dayton Innovation Virtual Academy will be open to grades 9-12, but will be limited at first to 50 students, with hopes to expand. Students will receive a computer and wireless internet access, and can do the work from home. Like regular public school, it will be free.

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“We’ve talked to many of our children who have left us for online academies and they said that had we offered something like that, they would have stayed with us,” Superintendent Rhonda Corr said. “Students drop out for various reasons. Maybe they have to work to support their family, maybe there’s an illness or something else going on. Now they have an opportunity to continue their education so they will graduate.”

Corr said the school will use the Apex Learning online curriculum that DPS currently uses for credit recovery when students need to catch up. DPS will contract with the Cuyahoga County Educational Service Center, where Corr had previous contacts, for the teachers and “learning advocates” who will work with students.

The Montgomery County ESC also offers Apex online curriculum, as well as a Graduation Alliance online program that eight local districts are using. MCESC assistant superintendent Shannon Cox said DPS has been involved with those discussions for more than a year. Corr said she hopes DPS can eventually work with the local ESC as well.

DPS will hold four parent meetings to explain the program, the first two of which are 10 a.m. Monday at the Northwest Library, 2410 Philadelphia Dr., and 4 p.m. Tuesday at DPS headquarters, 115 S. Ludlow St. Families can call 542-3131 for more information.

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DPS Chief Academic Officer Markay Winston told Dayton’s school board that the program will offer everything from basic courses to electives to Advanced Placement classes, with students still eligible for sports and extracurriculars, and eventually receiving a DPS diploma.

District officials said students must live within Dayton Public School boundaries to participate and still must take state tests. Corr said the program offers flexibility for students to move at their own pace, whether that’s faster or slower.

Winston said DPS has had 155 students transfer to online schools already this school year, with 96 of them going to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, which is embroiled with attendance and funding lawsuits with the state.

School board member Adil Baguirov said it is “long overdue to bring back these dollars,” as DPS loses at least $6,000 in state funding for each student who leaves for a charter school.

ECOT got in trouble because state reviews showed their online students were not really logging on to the courses. Corr said she’s absolutely confident that won’t be an issue here, pointing to the learning advocates, and saying DPS chose to start small to avoid those problems.

“They’ll be monitored,” DPS spokeswoman Jill Drury said. “Attendance will be taken, they’ll be tracked and if they don’t log in for a certain number of days, they’ll be contacted and asked, where are you?”

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Dayton is not alone in creating its own online program. Fairborn has its own charter school called Fairborn Digital Academy, and Mad River schools has an internal online program with enrollment fluctuating between 25 and 40 students, according to Superintendent Chad Wyen.

“Ours is self-contained with our staff, and a majority of ours do it at school,” Wyen said. “There’s a huge parent-school connection in our program, and that’s been really beneficial.”

Family information meetings

** Monday: 10 am to noon, Northwest Library, 2410 Philadelphia Drive

** Tuesday: 4 to 6 p.m., DPS headquarters, 115 S. Ludlow St.

** March 7: 10 a.m. to noon, Burkhardt Library, 4680 Burkhardt Ave.*

* March 9: 4 to 6 p.m., Madden Hills Library, 2542 Germantown St.For more information, call 542-3131.

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