Sunday, Jul 24, 2016
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Education

Sylvania, Springfield schools move toward digital academies

The Sylvania and Springfield boards of education are moving closer to establishing digital academies for youngsters in their districts.

The Springfield-sponsored academy had its initial board meeting recently, said Troy Armstrong, elected president of the board.

Mr. Armstrong, also director of technology and curriculum for the district, said the board has posted the position of executive director for the academy, which is to start classes Aug. 25.

He said the executive director post is considered to be part-time and will pay $14,000 annually for about 16 hours of work each week. Because this is new territory for the school, the time requirement and pay may be adjusted as the first school year gets under way.

The academy has received a $50,000 grant from the state and is applying for a grant of $150,000 from the federal government, he added.

The Sylvania Board of Education will be asked on Monday to approve a tentative agreement to establish a digital academy.

Some board members are still uneasy about the concept, but have given a preliminary go-ahead to Dallas Jackson, assistant superintendent of Sylvania Schools.

Mr. Jackson will be superintendent of the new school, which must have a board of directors and in some ways be formally detached from the traditional school.

Even with that separation, the board and administrators of the new entity will be appointed or approved by Sylvania's board.

Jim Nusbaum, a board members, noted that the digital academy is a program developed by a group based in Marion, Ohio. Some in the district feel they are losing control by implementing the program, he said.

Mr. Jackson acknowledged that, but noted that the Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association has worked with many school districts in the state and urges that they become independent in at most three years.

He said the advantage of working with that group is its experience in establishing and supplying a curriculum, and in filing various government requirements.

Some districts have decided to go it alone after only one year, Mr. Jackson said and opting out will always be possible for Sylvania.He stressed that none of the costs of the digital academy will come from the general fund of Sylvania schools.

Local districts that establish digital academies are eligible for a $50,000 grant from the state and a $150,000 grant from the federal government.

He said the state support of about $5,000 which is received from the state for each student will be split with the Marion group. As part of their assistance to Sylvania in getting the academy started, they will sill provide all of the computers, printers and other equipment necessary.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@toledoblade.com

or 419-724-6096.

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