SSC offering new online academy for home school students
STANDISH — This fall home school students from Arenac County and the surrounding area will have a chance to get a public school education from home.
Standish-Sterling Central High School will now offer the Standish-Sterling Virtual Academy; so home schools students can complete courses online.
Superintendent Michael Dodge said he has parents call every year asking about a curriculum from the high school.
“Now we will be able to meet the needs of those (students,)” he said.
SSC signed a one-year contract with Job Skill Technology Inc., creating the virtual academy.
Vice President Gary Kughn said the reason JST wanted to partner with SSC was because of the good reputation the school has.
“They have a reputation as a solid school and there is a good amount of home school families in the area,” he said.
Kughn added that having a good partner is important to the success of the students and the program.
JST has been in business for 20 years and is now partnered with K12 of Herdon Va.
Kughn said K12 specializes in virtual home school learning. He said that K12 has around 1,700 teachers and offers 130 different courses.
“They serve around 70,000 schools nation-wide,” he said. “They are the largest provider of online curriculum in the country.”
Kughn added that online learning provides flexibility for students.
“Students have a start date and a due date,” he said. “We provide the flexability, but it’s in a 24 hour period. We don’t care if you want to do your algebra at 3 a.m., but you have to get it done that day.”
SSC will not pay any money up front, but rather the school will pay when a student enrolls in the online academy.
Dodge said the school will pay around $5,500 per student from the states student fund allowance. Of that $5,500, $1,800 will come back to the school.
“(JST) is targeting students who are not already in the district too,” he said.
Kughn said this year there are no expectations.
“These families pay their taxes to,” he said . “So why not take advantage of something you pay for?”
A meeting will be held for parents and students on the week of Aug. 23, to inform them about what advantages the program has.
Kughn said that the normal contract agreement with JST and a school is for three years, but the contract with SSC is for one year.
“The board felt comfortable with a one year deal,” Kughn said. “Typically we don’t do that but we did not have much time and we wanted them to be comfortable.”
Kughn believes that the partnership with SSC will last for a long time.
“The biggest thing is having support for the program,” he said. “Than we can give the students the support they need.”
“We have a good product and they are a good school in a good community,” he said.
Kughn said that JST is currently used in 15 schools across the state and is growing every year.
“We have programs with St. Charles and Grand Blanc,” he said.
Right now the virtual academy can only be used by grades 9 through 12 in Michigan because of state regulations, but Kughn said if the state allows them in the future he would like to expand to a kindergarten through 8th grade program.
The board also decided that if a home school student wants to participate in extracurricular activities with SSC they have to come to the high school for one hour a day.