When the Streetsboro City Schools signed up with a digital academy that offers online courses, officials hoped it would attract more home schooled students and students who transfer from other districts back to Streetsboro.
This school year, eight students enrolled to take online courses in grades 1-12 in Streetsboro schools with ACE Digital Academy, a company headquartered in St. Clairsville that services 25 school districts.
Streetsboro school officials believe the number of students will increase.
"I have had a lot of inquiries," said Michael Daulbaugh, the school district's director of curriculum. "I suspect (the number of students) will be much larger in the future. I hope we can bring some of our home school students back to Streetsboro. So from that angle, I really hope to expand it for those students next (school) year."
Daulbaugh said when school officials signed up with ACE Digital Academy last April, they weren't sure what to expect in terms of enrollment.
"We wanted to bring some of our home schooled students back to Streetsboro," he said. "We pulled in a few students for that reason. They can play Streetsboro sports and graduate as Streetsboro students. They do their work at home and can participate in school activities."
Dr. Wendy Hanasky, co-owner of ACE Digital Academy, agreed.
"Students remain students of their local school district so they can participate in all extra curricular opportunities that traditional students enjoy," she said.
Daulbaugh said another reason Streetsboro students sought out ACE Digital Academy "was to help those who maybe needed some credit recovery," he said. "A couple students are doing that. Also, a couple students just weren't able to fit in at the high school. Rather than dropping out of school, we proposed this as an option."
Credit recovery is an opportunity for a student to retake a course in which he or she previously was not academically successful in earning credits towards graduation, officials said.
Daulbaugh said although enrollment closed for the school year in October, school officials would consider special circumstances for enrollment like a student moving into the district.
"We've been able to provide quality courses," he said. "We've been happy with the curriculum. Expanding curricular options for high school students is important for me. We can offer them more advanced placement choices."
"We plan to reach out to our home school students in the spring," Daulbaugh said.
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Advanced placement classes offer a college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students, officials said.
Hanasky said her digital academy offers 200 courses, and students interact daily with teachers who work for ACE Digital Academy.
The courses include "everything from foreign languages to physical education," she said.
She said online education offers "greater flexibility, more course offerings and more current content" than textbooks used in regular classrooms which aren't updated regularly.
Hanasky said every teacher at the digital academy is certified in the area that he or she teaches.
"In online education, students can access their courses anywhere, any time, as long as they have Internet access," she said. "Also, students are able to chose from a variety of courses. In most instances, students have more choices than through their traditional school district's offerings.
"Many courses offer environments for students to interact and add comments and feedback to their peers' work," she added.
"The price depends on the class and the level of the students," Daulbaugh said. "The fees are minimal compared to other online providers out there."
Treasurer Catherine Rouse said the school district's net loss for the 73 students who left in open enrollment last school year was $341,093.
Daulbaugh said that in the spring, school officials aim to "see what worked well, what didn't and what we can change for next school year" regarding the online program.