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Online school expansion moves forward

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools’ online K-12 school is moving forward, slated to open in the fall.

The Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday night to expand eCademy High School’s grade levels to include K-8 for the upcoming school year.

“The demand for online learning is increasing,” said Deborah Elder, executive director of the Office of Innovation and School Choice.

The district sent a survey, which closed Friday, to families to gauge interest. As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been 1,829 responses indicating interest in receiving more information about the school, according to APS.

“Responding to the stated community desire for a fully online option in all grades with an expansion of the grade levels to K-12 at eCademy will demonstrate the agility that is necessary to support learning for all students, retain enrollment and deliver on our vision to provide high-quality schools responsive to our community,” Elder told the board.

She said grades K-8 will start fully online, but could move to a hybrid model that would incorporate in-person learning in the future.

Some board members expressed concern over online learning for younger elementary students.

A recent legislative report showed learning from afar during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in learning loss for a variety of reasons. But Elder noted attendance wasn’t mandatory and lessons focused on material students had already learned, which won’t be the case moving forward.

Details about the expansion are still unknown at this point.

Elder said the district isn’t planning on putting a cap on enrollment at the school for the upcoming school year.

“We want to keep as many kids in APS as possible and keep their learning moving forward, and meet the demands of the community, so that’s our intent at this time,” she said. “It’s hard to say because we really don’t know what the response will be over the next few weeks.”

The budget for the expansion and the amount of staff members that will be hired will be based on enrollment.

Katherine House was named principal for the K-8 grades. The high school will continue under principal Erin Easley.

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