More Elkin students taking advantage of distance learning opportunities

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

Three opportunities are offered to students at Elkin High School to provide them chances to take courses that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them in a traditional school setting. Two of those offerings are web-based programs through the N.C. Virtual Public School and the N.C. School of Science and Math, while the other is through the Career and College Promise program, which includes courses taught at The Elkin Center or the main campus of Surry Community College.

During a presentation to the Elkin City Schools Board of Education recently, Cynthia Altemueller, chief instructional officer, provided an update on the system’s distance learning opportunities and the number of students who have taken advantage of them in the last couple of years.

The number of students taking courses at The Elkin Center of SCC jumped by more than 100 in the 2016-17 school year over last year’s 40 students, with 143 enrolled there. In 2015-16, the 40 students were spread among statistical methods 1, expository writing and intro to sociology. This year, the courses were expanded to include non-structural damage 1, cutting processes, writing and inquiry, college transfer success, music appreciation, general psychology, American history 1, American history 2, nursing assistant and welding.

In addition to on-site classes, SCC also has a number of courses the high-schoolers can take online and on their Dobson campus. The number of students enrolling in those classes also increased this year, by nearly 30 more students, Altemueller reported.

Students taking the classes through SCC will not only receive high school credit, but also college credit for the course, she explained as an advantage to enrolling through the Career and College Promise program. Altemueller noted that offering college-level courses, such as American history, through SCC has bridged the gap and increased the pass rate for the high school’s Advanced Placement courses because the college courses challenge the students who need that but aren’t quite ready for an AP-level class.

The classes taught online through the N.C. School of Science and Math differ from those offered through the Virtual Public School. Some of the NCSSM courses are virtual, but live, meaning there is a set time and instructor for the class who is online during that time period to interact with the students.

While sophomores can take courses through NCSSM and VPS, Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle explained that the Career and College Promise courses at SCC are only open to juniors and seniors. Also, VPS courses are not offered for classes already taught at EHS, since those courses have a cost associated with them.

In other school board action:

• The members unanimously approved a mowing contract to low-bidder Josh Cheek of Roadrunner Landscaping, who held the contract prior to Wooten’s Lawn Care which took it over about four or five years ago. The contract for mowing to Roadrunner will cost $265 for weekly mowing, trimming and monthly weedeating of all steep banks; $13 per hour for additional requested work such as weeding mulched areas and trimming shrubs; and $50 for weekly mowing and trimming of all fenced ball field areas as deemed necessary by school maintenance staff.

• An agreement was unanimously approved to continue participation in the City Schools Consortium, which coordinates lobbying and other assistance for city school systems in North Carolina. Elkin City Schools also acts as the fiscal agent for the group. The yearly membership fee is $4,034. School board members did request that a discount in the fee be asked about since the local school system provides its fiscal services at no charge to the consortium.

• Several budget amendments were approved unanimously for funds that had been anticipated but had not been approved at the state and federal level before the local budget required approval.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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