Monday, January 11, 2010

Online classes - the Flex Schedule

Since September I have been reporting on the E2020 program which was used as the curriculum for summer school in Walled Lake. There have also been classes of E2020 occurring outside of the regular schedule at one high school and during the day in another high school.

WALLED LAKE SCHOOLS is offering the 2 hour per day online classes beginning next year. It is called FLEX TIME SCHEDULE. This is not something the district has to bargain with the unions because it has been allowed by the State Superintendent and the State of Michigan.

What is E2020? E2020 is a company that provides ONLINE LEARNING and sells it to districts. There are many companies that provide this service, but Walled Lake bought licenses to use this company’s programming.

In the meantime, last year the State Superintendent (Mike Flannegan – formerly a superintendent in Farmington) raised the SEAT WAIVER for public schools. This means that school districts can get money for students who are NOT ACTUALLY SITTING IN A WALLED LAKE CLASSROOM WITH A WALLED LAKE TEACHER for up to 2 hours per day. There was also a component of Supt. Flannegan’s plan that allowed school districts to join together to allow students to take their entire day through online classes. Genessee Intermediate Schools and Oakland Schools have joined together and this component of the online learning is available through “Gen-net”, the online learning program for Genessee county schools. Oakland County schools also has joined with “Gen-net”.

Obviously, collecting state money for students who don’t actually need a teacher in front of them saves a school district money because they do not need as many teachers. However, this is an ominous development depending on whether students choose to sign up for these classes.

WALLED LAKE SCHOOLS is offering the 2 hour per day online classes beginning next year. It is called FLEX TIME SCHEDULE. There are over 40 classes students can choose from. This will be available for students in grades 9 through 12; students will sign up for either 1st and 2nd hour online classes and report to school hours 4 through 6, or they will attend school hours 1 through 4 and take online classes hours 5 and 6. They are required to leave the building during their online class time. They will NOT be sitting at a computer in the school building.

There will be .8 FTE or Walled Lake teacher assignment allotted to be Mentors or Teachers of Record for these students. The exact responsibilities of their job and the number of students they may mentor is subject to bargaining and is currently in this process. The WLEA has been told that these mentor teachers will be housed at Central High School. They will, among other things, follow up on all of the students’ progress to be sure they are logging on and completing modules in a timely fashion. The students can come into Central and get help from the mentor teachers if they feel the need, but will then go to their respective high schools for the rest of the day. They might be asked to take benchmark tests.

The school district is not sure how many students will sign up for these classes, but hope that 100 per high school will take advantage of the Flex Schedule.