The Carson City school board recently approved an application to the Nevada Department of Education for the renewal of the district’s distance education program for a term of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025.
The NDE requires school districts to update their plans and courses every three years and does not exempt them from following Nevada Revised Statute 388.090, which obligates them to provide at least 180 school days of instruction or the equivalent.
Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Tasha Fuson, presenting the item to the trustees during the board’s May 10 meeting, said the district had been receiving many questions regarding the “digital day issue” and the use of contingency days. Districts cannot hold “digital days” as an alternative to traditional school days, Fuson clarified.
Carson City’s distance education program is available through Pioneer Academy, Carson High School, Carson Middle School, Eagle Valley Middle School, Carson Adult Education and the Murphy-Bernardini Regional Juvenile Justice Center. The district partners with APEX Learning and Pearson Virtual Schools USA to provide its NDE-approved courses in multiple subjects.
Students enrolled who might be in home placement situations, credit-deficient, in need of remediation or are experiencing disciplinary issues or other circumstances can use opportunities to enrich their education, as described in the application. Students also seeking honors or advanced courses can enroll part- or full-time and look up offerings in school catalogs.
Fuson noted the application stated Carson City will not accept students from adjacent counties or charter schools, such as Lyon or Storey, or outside the district boundaries for the program.
“There’s no reason to take a zoned variance,” she said. “Most of our students who come to our district who are on zoned variances come maybe because their parents work in the district or maybe our high school has a program their high school doesn’t have, but when it comes to distance education, there’s nothing we have that’s unique to our program that another adjacent district doesn’t have.”
Homeschooled students also are not permitted to take online distance education with Carson City School District. Students who would like to be enrolled full-time with the district actually enroll, Fuson said, a reason why the district does not accept homeschooled students.
The application also must document attendance for accountability purposes, and it discusses state achievement examinations and assessments, with tests proctored by district certified employees and documenting that they have been training and have maintained test security.
During public comment, there was disagreement with the length of the extension, with resident Robert Harris expressing enrollment is falling, stating students are not learning academic skills and online classes “are not what is best for any child.”
The application was approved 6-0, with Trustee Mike Walker absent.