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Big Lake online school has 529 students enrolled

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Executive Director of Education and Learning Dr. David Bernard was pleased to report to the Sept 24th Big Lake School Board that the Online School has 529 students enrolled in its first year. 228 students are in K-5th Grade while 301 are in 6th-12th Grades.

Fifteen full-time equivalent Big Lake teachers are dedicated to support the students taking the Online School’s courses with Edgenuity: 6 teachers are in the two elementary schools, 4 in Middle School and 5 in the High School.

Grades 6-12 Online Coordinator Benjie Hamrin noted that of the 220 high school students, 180 are full-time in Online School. Some students are in the Big Lake’s hybrid program but may be taking online classes such as German which isn’t offered at the school. Others may be at Wright Technical School or participating in an On-the –Job Training program.

During the first week of online classes, Hamrin stated, “We literally received hundreds of questions each day. It’s been a learning curve for students, parents and teachers.” The Online School expands the number of AP courses offered and high school students can participate in ACT and MCA Prep classes.

K-5 Online Coordinator and Technology Integrationist Dan Haley reported that Big Lake Middle School students now can take elective classes such as music, studio art, Spanish and physical education/health.

“Students and families are getting more comfortable with the platform. We definitely have higher expectations for parents—some need to even turn on the computer and enter in the password.

“I’m very proud of the work our Big Lake online teachers,” commended Haley, “they are constantly communicating with students and parents through the Zoom network, emails and phone calls.”

Families with students in grades 1st-3rd generally have the same Big Lake Online teacher. The coordinators and teachers compiled 200 workbooks in English Language arts, Science, Math and Social Students. for kindergarten-5th grades.

Science kits are being prepared for the K-5 online students.

Hamrin noted that challenges for Big Lake Online School include expectations for students, procedures and attendance.

Board member Tony Scales asked how many hours/day students are spending on their online classes. Hamrin responded that high school students have 5-6 hours of computer time while middle school students have 3-4 hours.

Board member Dan Nygaard asked how the program will be evaluated. Bernard responded they will survey students and families, conduct focus groups and monitor student engagement and course completion. Minnesota assessment tools such as STAR will be used in grades 3rd-10th.

Responding to Scale’s question about students wanting to return to school, Bernard noted that students can return at the trimester and Big Lake teachers are working together to ensure classes are standardized in both the hybrid and online. Next year more electives could be offered and students audit AP classes.

Superintendent Tim Truebenbach complimented Haley and Hamrin as “working hard to build a successful program. They have a positive ‘can do’ attitude about any challenge they face.”

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