NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – School starts back up in just a few weeks, and one central Arkansas school district is taking a unique approach to virtual learning.
The North Little Rock School District is outsourcing teachers and curriculum. So far, nearly 300 students have signed up.
The district said this gives families who want virtual learning that option, while also giving teachers the chance to focus on just in-person teaching, instead of what they had to last year, which was juggle it all at the same time.
NLRSD has hired an outside company, Pearson, to take over the district’s virtual learning needs.
“And they are approved by DESE, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,” said Brouke Reynolds, Ed. D., the director of the district’s Virtual Academy. “They are an approved provider.”
The district wanted to serve students who prefer virtual classes, while also reducing stress on teachers who, last year, had to do it all.
“Sometimes, being able to use teachers from our building just wasn’t quite feasible because of the number we had that were virtual,” Reynolds said. “It allows our teachers who are teaching for the NRLSD just to focus on their in-person students.”
She added that the students will be taught by Arkansas licensed teachers who are certified in their content area, and all curriculum is aligned to state standards.
The outsourced program gives students flexibility, Reynolds said, on when they can do their classwork.
“There’s some flexibility for them to watch pre-recorded lessons or, you know, maybe if a student works better in the evenings,” she described.
The new program is paid for by the district with a price tag of $3,400 per student. At last count, 282 students have signed up, totaling $958,800.
The district said they’d love to continue this option year after year.
“We’d like to see this go beyond the pandemic and be able to offer this type as a permanent fixture for NLRSD,” Reynolds said.
The district said there is no limit to how many students can sign up for this option. The cutoff date to sign up for the Virtual Academy is Monday, July 26 at 11:59 p.m.
Families in the NLRSD who would like more information on the Virtual Academy can go to NLRSD.org.