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Alternative school may add online classes

POSTED: July 29, 2017 2:50 p.m.
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The Liberty County School Board will decide whether to add the online classes on Aug. 8

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Horizons Learning Center could soon add an online learning-only program to its curriculum.

Horizons is the Liberty County School System’s alternative-education program for students grades six through 12. There are three avenues at Horizons — Decisions, Discovery and Destinations — that are designed to help students in need of academic and social support.

The Liberty County Board of Education heard a proposal to add online learning classes to Horizon’s Discovery program. The Discovery Program offers a non-traditional environment for students who haven’t been successful in traditional settings.

Currently the program does blended learning, which offers digital content and direct instruction with a teacher at Horizons.

LCSS Assistant Superintendent Susan Avant said students who are homeschooled, expelled, have medical needs or certain special needs and cannot learn in a physical classroom been referred to other online courses, such as Georgia Cyber Academy.

By adding the online-only program those students can return to the system and learn at home or elsewhere.

Avant said parents have reached out asking for the district to offer this type of program.

"We want to meet the needs of all our children," Avant said. "We’re very excited to be able to offer this online platform in our district."

Students will be required to come to Horizons for orientation and standardized testing. They are expected to complete an average of one hour in each course, each day by the end of the week. For example, five hours of math per week.

There will be a "teacher of record" who will track the progress and develop plans for students. Students who need extra help will be able to meet the teacher at Horizons.

Students will also be able to participate in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, dances and sports, according to the Georgia High School Association guidelines.

Board member Carol Guyett asked if courses for high school pathways will be available. Avant said there are some courses available for pathways, not all of them.

Board member Carolyn Smith Carter was concerned that there wasn’t enough staff to support the program. She mentioned previous talks of Horizons needing more staff and how some on the board felt it was unnecessary. Carter thought there needs to be additional staff overall.

Avant said in talking with staff members and Horizons CEO Vivian Gilliard, there is enough staff now to support this year’s incoming students. She hopes the program will grow in future, in which case they’ll need more staff.

Board member Marcus Scott IV thought it was a good idea. He doesn’t want to see it used as a way to get problematic students "out the building" and asked everyone to keep in mind that not all students do well through online courses.

The vote for the new program will be on the consent agenda for the board’s Aug. 8 meeting.

New equipment for Bradwell

The board approved purchasing new weight room equipment for $34,276.60 from Pro Maxima Sports. The bid came under the original $40,000 budget.

The equipment list includes eight half racks, eight bridges, 16 bars, two plyo box sets, eight curl bars, eight resistance bands and one vertical leg press.

Any existing salvageable equipment will be given to the middle schools.

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