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Lovell , Wyoming
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April 21, 2011     Lovell Chronicle
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April 21, 2011
 

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12 I The Lovell Chronicle I April 21, 2011 www.LovellChronicle.com BOB RODRIGUEZ Superintendent Shon Hocker of Big Horn Coun- ty School District One said Monday, April 18, that he has signed a three-year, no- cost contract for the district to host the Wyoming Con- nections Academy -- an on- line educational program -- to "enhance course offer- ings," increase enrollment, especially for youth now be- ing home-schooled, and pro- vide a "no-risk" technique to gain revenue through im- proved daily attendance fig- ures. District trustees voted 6-0 approval during their meeting Wednesday af- ternoon, April 13, in the Rocky Mountain Elemen- tary School library in Cow- ley. Hocker spoke at length regarding the program, say- ing, "I see no risk to us to just try it." He assured the board several times regard- ing the "no-risk" aspect. Trustee Brett Crosby was absent. On Monday, in re- sponse to whether there will be any cost to the dis- trict, the superintendent stated, "None." The district will begin its participation beginning July 1, the start of the 2011- 2012 school year. Hocker said after the meeting that he and staffhave been eval- uating the program during the past two years. Connections Academy, in operation for 10 years, is described as "a leading, fully accredited provider of high- quality, highly account- able virtual K-12 schooling" that has launched its 2011- 12 enrollment season for home-based public educa- tion. The program delivers "top-quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, tech- nology tools, and commu- nity experiences to create a supportive and successful school environment." The academy is accredited by AdvancED. Although Hocker did BY KARLA POMEROY The Town of Byron came to the commissioners April 5 seeking assistance to replace the Byron Bridge and the request fell on gen- erous ears. Mayor Bret George wrote a letter outlining the problem with the bridge that connects the town to a county road. The county road begins just south of the bridge. Commissioner Keith Grant said former Mayor Mary Jensen had requested the bridge to be deeded over to the town. In his letter, George wrote, "During the past mayor's term, it was discov- ered that there was some substantial eroding dam- age to the decking of the said Monday, that the post two executive (closed to would be filled by the cur- the public and news me- rent job holder ..... dia) sessions in connection Strong confidence in the with the April 13 meeting. program and its value to One, on personnel, lasted the district were expressed 25 minutes. A second one, by Hocker, trustee Koleenregarding a student mat- Sponsel, curriculum direc- tor Patrice Riley and Wes Townsend, special ed direc- tor, They recently took a one-day trip to Mapleton to examine the Colorado Con- nections Academy. Partici, pation will put the district "ahead of the curve" in the ter, took eight minutes. With the regular meeting and the private gatherings, three hours were needed to handle all the business. In regular session the board voted 6-0 approval for an "expulsion waiver for student A." And there was 6-0 approval for one- year employment contracts for 89 certified staff mem- bers at Burlington School, field of education, Hocker said ....... He continued that there are provisions for ending the program if enrollment Rocky Mountain Elementa- is insufficient. But he noted ry School, Rocky Mountain thatbeeauseofafairlylarge Middle/High School and number of home-schooled the Special Ed Dept., plus students in the county, he Richard Parker as business sees more gains than loss- manager, Mick Esquivel as es. He foresees 300 to 400 technology director and Mi- new students through on- chael Simmons as facilities line education when the director. And Julie Davison partnership comes to frui- tion through the three-year contract. Stringent and BoB RoDmawz thorough screening pro- Big Horn County School District No. 1 Supt. Shon Hocker (left) reviews district cedures involving parents partnerships with Pat Laystrom and Donna Hutchinson of Connections and students will weed out Academy during a meeting last Wednesday. any student who thinks ited provider of high-qual- ity, highly accountable vir- tual schooling for students in grades K thrOugh 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning commu- nity from anywhere. "The combination of certified teachers, a prov- en curriculum, technology tools, and community expe- riences creates a supportive and successful online learn- ing opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2011-12 school year, Connections Academy will serve stu- dents in 22' states via 23 virtual public schools." Hocker formerly worked with Hutchinson in Idaho for a year prior to his com- ing to Wyoming. She then was CEO of Idaho Digital Learning Academy, and Hocker served as her board chairman. Some reservations and concerns about operational procedures and the value and strengths of the pro- gram were voiced by trust- ees and principals in the audience, and their queries were addressed by Hock- er, Hutchinson and Lay- strom, thereby gaining im- plied conditional support, as long as the "no-risk" scenario stands. Hocker said that should the pro- gram take flight in the dis- trict, there is a possibility of hiring a principal. The position would be paid by Connections Academy, he stated, and it appears, he that it would be a lark to undergo education online, he said. Hocker also said he feels that for students who don't do well in a regular classroom setting, Connec- tions Academy could be a feasible alternative, On an overall basis, Hocker noted, "They're out there (home-schooled stu- dents) and we can take ad- vantage" of that situation. The superintendent said that District One is taking the opportunity not only to expand its educa- tional horizons through the online program, but "to re- place Jackson Hole as the host." Although not specifi- cally stated as to why that district is leaving the pro- gram, it was indicated by Hocker that it is neither a negative nor disputatious situation. Trustees also held was hired as Burlington summer groundskeeper. Also with 6-0 votes the board accepted the resigna- tions of Peter Davidson as a football and basketball coach and Bob LaFollette as custodian/bus driver in Burlington. In other matters the board: *Heard a report from Parker that district financ- es are in good shape. *Watched as Hocker presented Chairman Dave Monk a certificate from the Wyoming School Boards Association in recognition of his advocacy in connec- tion with the most recent session of the Legislature. *Authorized Hocker to pursue granting a quit- claim deed to the Town of Deaver for the former wood shop and its classroom on the Deaver campus. The town, he said, will utilize it and let Deaver firefighters take over the current site used by the town. Hocker said Monday that sometime after July 1, the remainder of the campus buildings will be demolished. not specifically state the following, his comments to promote the virtual educa- tion program parallels the following outline from Con- nections Academy repre- sentatives Donna Hutchin- son and Pat Laystrom, who spoke to the board. The gist of their comments: "The nontraditional school envi- ronment can be a great fit for all types of students in- cluding those who are sig- nificantly ahead or behind in the classroom, those who need a flexible sched- ule or learn at a different pace from their peers, and those who need more indi- vidualized attention or live in isolated rural settings. Homebound and previously home-schooled students can also thrive in Connections Academy's program. "Connections Academy is a leading, fully accred- bridge ... When we were made aware of the damage and went down to assess it, it was bad enough that the bridge needed to be shut down until such time that a temporary patch was installed (by the town crew)." He told the commis- sioners they then sought a grant from the Wyoming Department of Transpor- tation for the estimated $486,000 project. The town is responsible to match 10 percent of the construction, $48,600. George asked the commissioners if the county could help with the match portion of the project. George said the proj- ect includes a 7.5-inch con- crete deck with railing and posts. He said the structur- al foundation of the bridge is sound. Engineer Willie Bridg- es said the bridge, which connects to County Road 6, is key to the county road system. Byron Town Clerk Vicki Gibson said the bridge is a critical part of the town. Commissioner Scot- ty Hinman said he is not against trying to help out, noting small towns like By- ron don't have a lot of funds for capital projects. Bridges cautioned the commissioners that if they help Byron, other commu- nities with bridges may come seeking help, as well. "We'll cross those bridg- es when we come to them," Hinman said. The commissioners also suggested the town put the project on their list for the consensus block grant: George said they could con: sider that but they have other projects like the school building. The commissioners then approved a motion to support the match at 50 percent, or $24,300. Bridg- es said he would check to see if county road funds could be used for that type of project. Funding will be includ- ed in the 2012 fiscal year budget. George said bids would not be let until June 1 so any funding wouldn't be needed until after July 1. COMMUNITY EVENT 3-6p.m. Lovell Community Center FREE Admission / Organizations will be on hand to answer questions about their projects and programs available to the community. Register to win $100 In Chamber Bucks Door Prizes Kids' Door Prizes For more information call the Lovell Area Chamber office 548-7552 o? Lovell Inc. 548-6707 i : ICONSTRUCTION DEBRIS U=, CCE ED AT THESE UJC,mO S.