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Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Virtual School doubles size

High school classes now included in curriculum

August 11, 2005

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If you added more than 100 new students to a traditional "brick and mortar" school, the building would probably burst at the seams.

In the virtual world, it's no big thing.

Enrollment at the Lawrence Virtual School jumped from 167 students in 2004-05 to 331 for the upcoming school year, officials said this week, and Principal Gary Lewis expects that number to rise.

"We're still growing," Lewis said. "We're looking at a total population of around 350 to 400 students."

High school students who live outside Lawrence had to sign up for classes last week, Lewis said. Other students have until Aug. 19 to enroll.

This is the first year the Lawrence Virtual School, at 2145 La., is offering classes to high school students. They can choose from 54 courses, enough to meet the graduation requirements for the Lawrence school district and the Board of Regents, Lewis said.

Forty-nine full-time students have signed up for the high school program so far, which means large class sizes are the last thing students or parents will have to worry about.

"You may have three or four students in a course," Lewis said. "That makes it difficult when you're trying to figure out a schedule of how to set up classes : But what it allows us to do is to test the system with small numbers to make sure it works the way we want it to work. We can tweak the system to make sure it's the best."

The high school program, like the elementary program, is offered to students statewide.

"Demographically, I haven't had a chance to look at those numbers to see how many are in Lawrence, how many are in Wichita, how many are in Emporia. I haven't done that yet," Lewis said.

If the K-8 program is any indication, though, most of the students will be scattered across the state.

"Of those 282 students, 42 are from Lawrence, 54 are from Wichita and the rest are scattered in the northeast region of the state," Lewis said.

The Lawrence school district receives funding for each of those students, no matter where they reside. The per-pupil amount allocated by the state has increased this year to $4,257. That's up from $3,863 last year.

With the exception of the Virtual School, district-wide enrollment comes to a close today. An unofficial head count should be available by the end of the week. Official enrollment numbers are tabulated in September.

Virtual school classes started Aug. 1.

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