Carter County’s new online academy approaches 200 participants prior to Monday launch

Carter County is getting ready to launch its new online academy Monday, and they are already approaching 200 applicants.

“This shows the need for some alternative educational opportunities for our students,” Secondary Supervisor for Carter County Schools Danny McClain said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the program has reached 182 applicants, a number he said he is proud of for the program’s inaugural year.

“It was exciting,” he said.

The online academy has held two parent/community meetings since the program was first announced a few months back, each garnering hundreds of interested parents eager to learn more.

McClain said some of the most common questions parents have had related to sports and CTE eligibility.

He said as far as the school system and higher authorities are concerned, those registered in the online academy are registered as Carter County students.

“They will be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities,” McClain said.

For example, the schedules the academy sets are identical in scale to a brick-and-mortar school. For activities such as band or football, students are mostly dependent on zoning and availability, just like regular students go to the schools within their zone.

As for tuition, participants in the program receive quarterly bills, and the school system’s funding comes from the state’s Basic Education Plan funding, so tuition will be business as usual.

A common concern about the program, however, is access to the internet, as many Carter County communities have less-than-reliable internet access.

“On the application, every student has said they have internet access,” he said.

For families who may have difficulties accessing the program, McClain said the system is willing to meet with them one-on-one to determine workarounds.

The academy is not strictly-bound to the physical school year, so students can register whenever they feel ready to do so.

In addition, the school system originally offered free Chromebooks to the first 100 applicants to the academy. Pending final approval from Thursday evening’s school board meeting the board has agreed to provide Chromebooks to all remaining applicants to the program.

“I am excited about the alternative opportunity students have to be involved in courses and CTEs,” McClain said.

The program officially launches Monday, Aug. 19.

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