The Clay County Board of Education unanimously approved a plan to hand off virtual learning to a third-party company for the 2021-2022 school year.
Director of Schools Matt Eldridge said they’ve spent the last month assessing cost and effectiveness and agreed Edgenuity was the most cost-effective route. Elrdridge said there has been outreach to gauge parents interest over that time and that will continue into Spring.
“We’re going to have several meetings set up, Miss Strong is going to do that in the mornings, evenings and several times a week,” Eldridge said. “Over the next course of two to three months to see what people might be interested in, let them know what virtual learning or the remote learning is going to be like next year.”
During Thursday night’s meeting Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor Misty Strong said they received mostly “I don’t know’s” from parents about whether their child would return to in-person learning in the Fall. Elrdridge said participation will determine the cost of Edgenuity for Clay County schools.
“Probably per student, we’re looking at $2,500 to $3,000 per student,” Eldridge said.
Clay County schools have about 85 teachers in the system. Eldridge said shifting to Edgenuity will take virtual learning off teachers plate so they can focus on in-person students.
“Right now they’re basically three types,” Eldridge said. “They’re doing classroom teaching, students that are sick, so they’re in home school. They’re also having to do the virtual, so they’re almost doing three jobs right now.
Eldridge said Edgenuity will be paid for with part of the $1.4 million in CARES Act money the system will get over the next two years. He said investing in virtual learning makes sense, because he does not think it’s going anywhere.
“I think this has set a standard, most of the districts in Tennessee and across the nation were a little behind in that,” Eldridge said. “It’s made us all pick our game up. So, I think virtual learning is going to be around for a while. Now there may not be as many students do it when this pandemic is over.”
Eldrige said they would be asking families to commit for a semester if they decide to use Edgenuity. He said while this will cost $2,500-$3,000 per student, the estimated BEP funding per student is $7,500.