Junior high, high school students will have more, flexible class options

Published 10:42 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

Online courses are coming to the Vicksburg Warren School District in January.

The school board, with a dissenting vote by Jim Stirgus, approved training for select third- through 12th- grade teachers one day during winter break in order to implement the Oddyseyware program.

“We have some students who want to take specific courses, and we’re looking at next year having it open for a lot more than just the second semester,” Shealy said.

The online courses, superintendent Chad Shealy said, came about when administrators were looking for an advanced option for student who were performing highly in math. After research on the best options for students, the district contacted Oddyseyware and the company offered some of the program courses to the district for free. However, there is a $7,500 training fee for the teacher workshop.

“One of the goals since the beginning is to give students the opportunity for those online courses. A lot of the education you’ll see coming online at your colleges now are hybrid classes and online courses. We want to give them at least one of those by the time they graduate,” Shealy said.

Another way online courses will benefit the district, Shealy said, is for students who want to take a specific course but not enough of their peers registered to make a full class. Those courses are typically canceled because of their small size, but with online courses, the students can still explore those subjects that may not be as popular to their peers.

“Oddyseyware gives us the opportunity to be more flexible to meet the needs of every individual child,” Shealy said.

Courses offered through the program will cover mathematics, language arts, career and technical education and more. These courses are offered to junior high and high school, he said.

“We’re excited about the variety and the opportunity that’s opened up for some of our students,” Shealy said.

During the meeting, the board also approved district policy changes with the exception of one policy on state assessments.

Districts in Mississippi cannot opt out of state testing at this time, Shealy said, but the board chose to hold on approving the stipulation in case that changes.

A yearlong review of the district policy through the Mississippi School Board Association was preformed in order to solidify the plan.

“The board policy was in multiple places. We had some of it online, some of it was on paper, some of it was on CDs and in storage, and we just wanted to get a place where everybody can access it,” Shealy said. “We contracted service through the Mississippi School Board Association and it took us about a year.”

Every single policy was reviewed and updated, which includes attendance, school calendar, graduation requirements, mission driven decision-making, board retreats, dual enrollment and much more. The association made sure no statewide mandates was overlooked in the review.

In other news:

• Eleven old school buses and a maintenance van are being sold by the school district as newer models have gradually replaced the out-of-date transportation.

• The board approved an agriculture bid, after the property was opened for auction, on a five-year lease for a portion of property the district owns on Eagle Lake. Roy Simmons bid $40,010 and another bidder offered $35,000. Once open to auction, Simmons won out with a final price of $46,000. The biding process was approved to go to auction during last month’s meeting when the board received a bid from Simmons that was $5,000 less than his prior contract for $30,000.

• Bids for Site Care Services, or landscape services, were put on hold until the board can get better information on what each of the six bids entail as far as pricing for the school district.