VCSC sets July 30 open house for virtual school

Robin Smith

The Vigo County School Corp. plans a July 30 open house for its new virtual school, which aims to meet the needs of Vigo County high school students who may need an option to a traditional brick-and-mortar setting.

The open house for Vigo Virtual Success Academy will take place at 6 p.m. July 30 in Booker T. Washington High School. Interested students and parents are encouraged to attend, and the program will be enrolling students in grades 9-12 for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

"The most important thing for me is we're providing education options for kids who need it," said Robin Smith, principal of Washington High School and the new virtual academy. "Not every student fits into that brick and mortar mold. As a principal, I want to be able to have options at my fingertips to help kids achieve their dreams and meet their goals."

There has been much interest, she said. She's had about a dozen meetings so far with interested families, with another seven meetings set up for today. School starts in just three weeks on Aug. 6.

The district is hoping to bring "home" some of the 367 students who attended virtual schools outside of Vigo County last year, said Bill Riley, VCSC director of communications. At an average of $6,362 in state funding per student, that represents a loss of about $2.3 million annually in state funding.

"We can provide higher quality education at home with the support of a principal, counselor and lab space," he said.

According to Smith, when a VCSC student leaves the district to attend an outside virtual school, "They are no longer our students and we can no longer follow them." With Vigo Virtual Success Academy, "They are getting what they need in a virtual environment and we see what they are doing, interact with them and talk to their parents. I hope they'll see this is a really good option to meet their needs."

Students attending Vigo Virtual Success Academy will be Vigo County School Corp. students. "I will be their principal. Even though it's virtual learning, parents can call me or my counselor, Carrie Newport. If students are struggling, we're right here to support them," Smith said.

At the July 30 open house, Smith will provide a brief overview of the school’s procedures and will have applications for students and parents to complete. A representative from EdOptions, the company partnering with Vigo Virtual Success Academy, will deliver a demonstration of the virtual platform.

The virtual program will offer more than 280 online courses available to all students in grades 9-12, supported by lab and testing space, as well as the principal, school counselor, and social services at Booker T. Washington High School.

Full-time eligibility for Vigo Virtual Success Academy is open for students who are currently homeschooled; homebound; in need of credit recovery; in need of flexible scheduling due to a documented medical/emotional reason; or in need of alternative education due to disciplinary hearings or other reasons.

Part-time eligibility for Vigo County School Corp. students is available, and students may earn up to eight credits during a trimester.

Vigo Virtual Success Academy offerings will include core courses, elective courses, AP courses, global language courses and career and technical education courses.

“Not all of our students are able to complete their education in our traditional schools, and many families choose non-traditional options for their students,” said Tom Balitewicz, director of student services. “Vigo Virtual Success Academy is designed to serve all Vigo County students and families.”

If students are unable to attend the July 30 open house, they may contact Smith at 812-462-4427 or robin.smith@vigoschools.org to set up an individual application meeting.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

Sue Loughlin has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star for more than 30 years. She covers general news with a focus on education.