Board approves virtual learning for NASD students

Published 12:04 am Saturday, August 8, 2015

NATCHEZ — Soon, some students in the Natchez-Adams School District will be learning via live stream.

At the Natchez-Adams County School Board meeting Friday, board members discussed a proposal concerning Edgenuity, a software company.

The board approved the use of The Edgenuity Virtual Curriculum Solutions program last week for online courses, but this program allows a teacher to teach a class where there is no certified teacher available through a video conference.

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Dr. Tanisha Smith, deputy superintendent, said after the meeting one course the program would be used for was Spanish at Natchez Early College Academy and Morgantown College Prep Academy.

“It’s filling a void,” Superintendent Frederick Hill said.

Hill said the teachers who teach through the videoconference have the same certification as those who teach in person.

Students who are taught via this live stream will have a teaching assistant in the room during the instruction.

Smith said the program did not require a flat fee.

“We only pay as students enroll,” Smith said.

Dr. Benny Wright, vice president of the board, wanted to know if there would be a way to measure how students reacted to it.

“After nine weeks, could we get a report that would reflect the performance of the students who were exposed to that?” Wright asked.

Board President Timothy Blalock said they would look at the program after it had run for nine weeks. However, Blalock said something had to be done for the present.

Wright also wanted to know if there was a way to offer a monetary incentive to attract certified teachers to the district who specialized in areas of need.

Hill said the problem was teacher availability.

“If they’re not there, they’re just not there,” Hill said.

Blalock said the matter could be discussed further when they discuss the budget later this year.

For now though, board member Amos James Jr. motioned to approve the proposal and was seconded by Wright. The motion passed unanimously with three votes, since Cynthia Smith and Thelma Newsome were not able to attend the meeting.

“We have to do what we have to do to get them taught,” James said.

Before discussing Edgenuity, the board also discussed personnel matters, reviewing the latest list of personnel recommendations, a process that has continued for several meetings.

Wright motioned to adopt the list. James seconded, and it passed 3-0.

As it has for several meetings, the board also looked at applications for expert citizen licenses.

The license allows people with knowledge of a subject but no traditional teacher’s license to teach in a classroom under a temporary license as they work toward their permanent license.

The application must be approved by the board, and then by the state, before going into effect.

Wright moved to approve the seven applications, and was seconded by James. The motion passed unanimously.

The same happened for the two one year educator licensure requests for veteran teachers, which is for those who already have traditional teaching licenses, but want to teach in another subject area. The applications will also have to be approved by the state.

At the end of the meeting, Wright motioned to go into executive session, which was seconded by James and approved unanimously.

In executive session the board discussed a special education situation and an update on some of the lawsuits the school district is currently undergoing.