More than 1,400 Eastern Carver County Schools students are enrolled in the Online Learning Academy this fall, representing 15 percent of the school population, district officials shared Oct. 12.
That number includes 702 elementary students, 368 high school students and 360 middle school students.
Students enrolled in-person still accounts for 83 percent of the student body at the elementary and middle school levels, and 89 percent at the high school level.
Looking at demographics, 32 percent of Black or African American students and 26 percent of Hispanic/Latino students in District 112 are enrolled in Online Learning Academy. Just 10 percent of students that are White are in full distance learning.
"We have been spending a lot of time supporting Online Learning Academy, supporting learners that are in this option," Chris Hentges, Leader of Personalized Learning: Digital Services for District 112, said. "Our teaching staff has been just outstanding."
Hentges said there have been three core values: relevant, rigorous academic program; high expectations for student learning; and high levels of engagement in learning.
A main focus has been on pacing of curriculum to remain consistent with the in-school experience. A framework of online standards was developed this summer by the Teaching and Learning department to coordinate the two instruction styles.
Hentges said there has been three common themes that have emerged from teachers and families on why they have chose Online Learning Academy: 1) fear of the virus; 2) high-risk family members; and 3) stability of the learning model.
Other demographic and enrollment data included 25 percent of students on free or reduced lunch, 18 percent of specialized education and 29 percent of English Learners are currently enrolled in the Online Learning Academy.
"It did catch us by surprise," Hentges said.
"During our community involvement sessions we had have families of those demographics who voiced their concerns over sending their children back to school. The threat of the virus, the potential for their kids to be sick," District 112 superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams said.
She pointed out trends across the country show that people of color, people who live in poverty, people who may have pre-existing health conditions, are most susceptible to the virus.
"We need to make sure these students of these demographics that are learning from home are getting what they need to be successful," Sayles-Adams said.
NEW BUILDING APPROVED
Southwest Metro Intermediate District No. 288, which owns and leases space to provide special education, alternative education, career & technical education, adult basic education, and mental health services, is moving forward with the purchase of a facility building at 4601 Dean Lakes Boulevard in Shakopee.
Eastern Carver County Schools is one of 11 member school districts that are part of the alternate cooperative. Roughly 14 percent of District 288 students come from Eastern Carver County.
Other school districts include: Tri-City United, Belle Plaine, Jordan, Prior Lake-Savage, Shakopee, New Prague, Norwood Young America, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Watertown-Mayer, and Waconia.
Current facilities at Valley Green Workforce Center and Town Square Mall in Shakopee are at or near capacity. The new property, which required all 11 member school districts to pass the resolution, would be retro-fitted and be ready for next school year.
District No. 288 will sell its interest in Valley Green and not renew its lease at Town Square Mall.
ECCS pays its share of lease and maintenance costs of SWMetro buildings through lease levy and long-term facility maintenance levy. The member district’s share is calculated by annual use of SWMetro programs as measured by attendance hours.
Impact to member district taxpayers will be zero net change. Lease levy will go up slightly to purchase the Dean Lakes property, but a lower facilities maintenance levy will offset much of the added cost.
The purchase price for the property is $6.5 million with an additional $1 million allocated to update the building to tailor to educational needs.
In other news:
- Dennis Hoogeveen, principal, of CliftonLarsonAllen, issued ECCS with a "clean" audit for the year ending June 30, 2020. The financial statements are fairly stated, the report said. No compliance issues were noted in the review of laws, regulations, contracts and grants that could have significant financial implications to the District.
- The next school board meeting is Monday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m.