Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

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Virtual Academy gets OK to expand

Expanded coverage

Whether students are of the age to learn their ABCs or to start prepping for their SATs, they will soon all be welcome to gain their education from the Nevada Virtual Academy.

Beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year, the online school will serve students in all grade levels.

During the current 2008-2009 school year, the academy was only authorized to offer grades kindergarten through ninth.

The Nevada Board of Education voted unanimously last month to approve the school's requested expansion.

The academy, founded in 2007, is an online statewide tuition-free public school that is sponsored by the Nevada Department of Education.

Curriculum and management services are provided to the school by K12 Inc.

Students access their lessons via the Internet and receive instruction from state-licensed teachers. They are required to meet the same accountability standards as students in traditional public schools.

For grades kindergarten through eighth, the program requires that a parent or other responsible adult serve as a learning coach to each student.

Nevada Virtual Academy Head of School Mike Kazek said enrollment is currently at about 950 students.

With the expansion of the additional three grade levels, Kazek said he is hopeful the student population will grow by about 50 percent.

While future enrollment numbers will determine staffing needs, he said he expects to initially hire about seven new teachers.

As a public school, the virtual academy is funded the same way as a traditional school with a certain amount of money allocated per pupil.

Varying percentages of that money are paid to K12 Inc. for management services such as enrollment and payroll and for providing curriculum and materials.

With an increased enrollment, the academy will receive more money from the state.

Gary Horton, the distributive school account administrator for the Nevada Department of Education, said he does not, however, foresee the state having to shoulder a significant burden because of the expansion.

"The state is going to have to realize it has the obligation to provide education for all those who are entitled to it no matter what the budget situation is," he said.

"We are very grateful that the current state school board has authorized us to be a complete K-12 school ... and we will continue to strive toward providing the highest quality education possible," Kazek said.

Ashley Livingston can be reached at 990-8925 or [email protected].

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