The Calcasieu Parish School Board approved the creation of a CPSB virtual school beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The virtual school will be an online platform offered to students entering grades 9-12. It will work in conjunction with Lake Charles-Boston Academy and will only target students who are currently enrolled in a home-school program.
Recent reports from the Louisiana Department of Child Welfare show that approximately 750 Calcasieu students have left a traditional public high school and are currently enrolled in some form of home school, said Tommy Campbell, CPSB chief academic officer. “Parents have the right to make educational decisions for their kids. We respect that.” He noted that while some families leave the traditional public school setting because of curricular concerns, others depart for reasons such as mental health, peer pressure or other unique competitive extracurricular activities. The CPSB virtual school is an alternative for those who have left for the latter reasons, said Campbell, because the curriculum is the same high-quality, TOPS core curriculum offered at all CPSB high school campuses.
The district is currently aware of three outside providers who offer public online high school courses to Calcasieu students. Campbell explained, “We felt we could locally offer students everything and more than those providers could offer.” While the coursework is online, students enrolled in the virtual school will be able to make an appointment for face-to-face access to their teachers and parents will have a local point of contact to answer any questions or concerns regarding their child’s progress.
The virtual school offers numerous elective courses in addition to its TOPS core curriculum, but students will also have the opportunity to participate in certain extracurricular activities at their zoned school. Campbell anticipates virtual school students being able to take part in certain after-school activities at the discretion of the school principal. Students will also graduate with a diploma from their zoned school and will be able to participate in the graduation ceremony with their peers. Virtual school students will only be required to score a composite of 20 on the ACT to qualify for TOPS whereas home-schooled students must score a composite of 22 to qualify.
For students who have left the district because of a competitive extracurricular schedule, the virtual school offers a flexible course load. Students must work in the program for a minimum of five hours each week in each course. However, students can work ahead in the program in preparation for an extended extracurricular event and their absences will not be counted against them.
Students must adhere to the attendance policy, pursue a TOPS core curriculum diploma, maintain a 2.0 GPA and participate in all state-mandated testing to continue in the program. “It’s not easy. It’s just a difficult as face-to-face,” said Campbell, but for some current home-school families the CPSB virtual school may be just what they are looking for.
For more information on the CPSB virtual school call Lake Charles-Boston Academy at 217-4390.