Sun, Jan 17, 2021
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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SB School District adopts Columbia Virtual Academy

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The co-op, started by the Valley School District in Spokane in 2004, is a partnership of school districts throughout the state which allow students to be enrolled in the public school system while studying at home. After adopting the program late last spring, South Bend is currently serving 30 students in the fully accredited and approved CVA program. "We're adding kids every week," South Bend Superintendent Jon Tienhaara said.

The students in the CVA program are enrolled at South Bend, but they don't necessarily live in South Bend, rather they reside in the geographical region which the South Bend CVA program serves. South Bend is currently the only school district in the region to offer online educational services for all grades, K-12.

The program is implemented with the cooperation of CVA central and teachers at South Bend. They work together to create individual learning plans for each student, which teachers at South Bend carry out. The curriculum must meet Common Core standards and students must pass the state assessment. Currently, Dan Raymond and Jeremiah Alvarez are the teachers that work for the CVA program. They stay in communication with their students and their parents each week, ensuring that progress is maintained according to the individual student learning plan. Both Alvarez and Raymond are fluent in Spanish, making South Bend the only CVA program in the state that offers Spanish services.

Superintendent Tienhaara established the program at South Bend earlier this year because of his experience with it in his previous work at Naselle School District. "Last year was our third year [at Naselle] and we had close to 300 students in the program. We had six teachers, two support staff, and a halftime principal running the program. So it has the potential to create a lot of local opportunities, jobwise, and it also brings in a lot of additional resources to the school."

South Bend School Districts receives funding from the state for the students enrolled in the CVA program. "They fund online students differently than regular brick-and-mortar kids, but it's still substantial. Of course, there are costs in there for the curriculum, the technology, and the teachers, but it does in the end give more resources and that's good for the district."

Tienhaara continued, "In a small community and small school system, innovative programs like this help in a lot of ways. We hope that these resources can help fund additional programs in the regular brick-and-mortar school. Eventually, I would love to see the return of a full art program K-12. I also would like to see expanded career and technical offerings, home economics, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities for our kids."

Tienhaara is hopeful the program will grow, especially considering its popularity after just a few months. "I'd love to see the program grow to 300-400 kids eventually, where we would have an actual CVA staff serving those online kids. There's a huge need for it. A lot of kids in the State of Washington just choose to do school differently. Our primary reason for partnering with CVA is to provide high quality assistance to parents and families wishing to educate their children in a non-traditional manner. We have found that a lot of parents need extra support or want to take advantage of the many resources CVA offers."

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