The Sahuarita Unified School District is offering another way for high school students to fulfill their graduation requirements.
In January, students can leave school an hour or two early and take one or two classes online without paying fees, said Brett Bonner, assistant superintendent for educational services.
“We want to find ways to adapt and meet the needs of our diverse population,” he said. “We need to meet the needs of students who don’t meet the traditional brick-and-mortar programmatic design.”
Most students attend school five or six hours a day, but there is an increasing number of students who work, live on their own, prefer online courses, want to graduate early or have family obligations, Bonner said.
Come January, students can take one or two of their courses online instead of on campus. Students who choose to take four courses on campus will leave school around 1 p.m.
No additional transportation is provided for the students who get out of class early, so younger students may choose to stay on campus and go to the computer lab to do their online courses, Bonner said.
The new program and several other available online programs are administered by the Vail Unified School District, which has had an agreement in place with SUSD since 2012, Bonner said. The district pays about $5,070 per year to Vail, which has received an Arizona Online Instruction certificate from the Arizona Department of Education, Bonner said. Although SUSD has completed and secured its own AOI certification, limited capital funding has impacted the expansion and growth of these specific programs.
If students take some courses on campus and some online, SUSD still receives state funding for that student, Bonner said. This year, that amount is $3,681 per student, Bonner said. Vail, on the other hand, only receives the course fee, which the district passes on from the students.
If a student takes all of their courses online through Vail, that district receives state funding for that student.
All of the courses must be approved by a student’s school counselor or principal, Bonner said.
Whether they are trying to get ahead in their credits, improve their grade point average or makeup failed classes, these are the students other options:
• Sahuarita Get Ahead: Students can take one online course at home for $150 per half credit per semester. Courses offered include health, economics, government, art history, business management, marketing, nutrition and fitness..
College Online for High School Credit: Students can take online courses through Brigham Young University to get ahead on their high school credits if the courses are not offered by SUSD or by the Vail School District. BYU charges a $150 per semester course fee along with a $75 final exam fee. BYU was one of the first universities to offer high school courses and the district has chosen to continue passing along students’ fees to the college without an intergovernmental agreement because of the long-standing relationship, Bonner said. No SUSD students are currently taking BYU courses, however.
Grad Lab: Students can take a course in a school computer lab for $80 per semester to improve their grade point average or make up for a failed course.
Weekend Academy: In October and February, students can take computer lab courses after school Wednesday through Friday and on Saturdays. Again, these classes are offered to students who want to improve their grade point average or make up for a failed course.
Sahuarita Online: Students can take all of their courses online through the Vail Unified School District for free.
Again, SUSD has state approval to offer online courses itself, but state funding cuts have made it impossible for the district to hire staff purchase computer upgrades, desks and chairs for the program, Bonner said.
However, since voters approved a $25 million bond override in November, Bonner said he has been instructed by Superintendent Manny Valenzuela to look at how the district might be able to move forward with its own program or expand the existing program.