Leader Blues

Friday, June 13, 2008

TOP STORY > >PCSSD offers online classes this summer

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

For the first time this year, most Pulaski County Special School District high school summer school students can make up classes in their pajamas and without leaving home.

That’s because summer school this year—and likely for the foreseeable future—is an online activity, according to Carletta Wilson, a PCCSD spokesperson.

To accommodate students who don’t have Internet access at home, the district has computers available on both sides of the Arkansas River—at Fuller Middle School annex and at Sylvan Hills High School. Each school has a certified teacher to help students get on-line or help with content, Wilson said. Those centers are open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

She said Internet summer school addressed several problems.

“We’ve had cyber school during the school year,” Wilson said. “We had a hard time finding teachers to teach summer school and it reduces the fuel costs of transporting many of the 200 students to summer school.”

South of the river, only a handful of students go to Fuller to use the computers for summer school, while at Sylvan Hills, the number is about 20.

About five years ago, the district stopped teaching summer school classes for students trying to get ahead, concentrating instead on those trying to recover credits.

The summer school students use the same books they would use in a classroom and have lessons to complete online, she said. For testing, they must come to take tests and they must complete 60 hours online. All English classes in grades nine-12 and all math classes except calculus are offered, plus science classes, Amercian and world histories and government.

Students also can use computers at libraries, and can even travel or go on vacation as long as they have regular Internet access and complete their assignments, she said.

While the district doesn’t have any information on the success of Internet summer school from other sites, Wilson said the district’s cyber school during the school year had proven successful. Students attending cyber school might have been prohibited from attending school, or in some cases at their parent’s request.

“We haven’t seen any negatives on it,” she added.

“This is what we do (for summer school) until further notice,” she said. “This may be the new face of school in years to come.”

But that would be a long way down the road.