HALLSVILLE — Nearly 4,000 students statewide are enrolled in Hallsville Independent School District’s online school, an administrator announced during a school board meeting Monday night.
The first-year enrollment for Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville surpasses the estimate of more than 2,000 students that Todd Thorpe, K12 Virtual Schools regional vice president, had provided in May. The enrollment is “massive,” coordinator Julie Smith said, but fewer than 10 of those students live in the Hallsville school district area.
“I believe in your board book it shows there were 2,923 students enrolled as of last Monday. This morning, it was 3,793. This afternoon, it was 3,880, so it’s progressing at a rapid pace and we’re trying to keep up with all of that. It’s super exciting,” Smith said.
The district is reviving its virtual school efforts after suspending its former online charter Virtual High School in June 2016. Virtual High School opened in August 2014 and offered 18 required courses for freshmen and sophomores by the 2015-16 school year.
Superintendent Jeff Collum said in June 2016 that the district suspended the program “to take advantage of this opportunity to evaluate the program and how it can best serve the needs of our students and school district.”
Hallsville trustees approved a three-year agreement with K12 Virtual Schools in May to establish the Texas Virtual Academy at Hallville, which will provide online-based education for students in third through 12th grades.
More than 120 state-certified instructors have signed on to teach the students, and the online school’s curriculum is closely aligned with the district’s curriculum, Smith said. Since July 1, the school’s on-site team has been hired, including a dean of schools, special education director, registrar and public education information management system clerk, she said.
“We’ve been looking at our special ed (population) and placing them in the appropriate instructional settings. We’ve been working on a master schedule and (course) scheduling,” she said. “Our students either have received or will receive their box of materials that will go along with their online instruction.”
Board members approved the virtual school’s calendar and student handbook. Texas Virtual School at Hallville will start classes Aug. 27 instead of Wednesday when the rest of the Hallsville school district starts. Virtual school students and staff will attend school Oct. 25 to 27 to make up the difference, according to board documents.
Because of the number of courses offered per day and the number of electives available, the online school students are required to obtain 26 credits for graduation, Smith said.
Hallsville High School students need 31 credits to graduate.
“I want to thank the board and administrators for putting us on this road. It’s going to be a great opportunity not only for HISD, K12 (and) TVAH, (but also) the students and teachers of Texas,” Smith said.