This school year, the Livingston Parish Public Schools system will launch a new virtual learning program.
This week, students can start signing up.
Applications for Livingston Virtual, a full-time virtual school that opens in the fall, will be accepted beginning on Tuesday, July 7, LPPS officials have announced.
Open to students in grades 6-12, Livingston Virtual is an online program targeting homeschool and charter or virtual school students. Online instruction will be supported with online interaction with the instructor, as well as required face-to-face sessions to be held at the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center in Walker.
The new program, which has been in the works since at least midway through the last school year, is not a response to the coronavirus pandemic but an alternative for current home school, charter and private students, LPPS Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis said in a statement.
The program is open only to students residing in Livingston Parish.
“Our district has been researching an effective virtual school option for our students for over three years, and we believe the format we plan to offer this fall will give them the best structure for success,” Purvis said.
“Livingston Virtual will provide students with a rigorous, independent format that is reinforced through face-to-face instructional support and access to social interactions, including extracurricular activities at their in-district campuses and unique community activities.”
Following a School Board meeting in February, Purvis said Livingston Virtual will be funded initially through an Education Excellence Fund (EEF) grant until the program can sustain its own cost.
The creation of the new program serves a two-fold purpose: To reach more children in grades 6-12 residing in Livingston Parish but not enrolled in the school system, and to recoup Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funds lost to charter and virtual programs.
This past school year, there were more than 500 homeschool students residing in Livingston Parish but not enrolled in the school system, according to figures Purvis provided to the School Board’s Athletic/Staff Committee in February.
The number of homeschoolers residing in — but enrolled in charter or virtual programs outside of — Livingston Parish resulted in a $2.6 million loss in MFP funds for the 2019-20 school year.
Enrolling homeschool or charter/virtual program students in Livingston Virtual will allow the school system to recoup some of those lost MFP funds while also providing additional resources to students residing in Livingston Parish, Purvis said.
“There are students who do better in an online program than the traditional classroom setting, so this is a benefit to them because we’re offering a high-quality curriculum,” Purvis told The News in February. “In return, it’s a benefit for us because we’re recouping the dollars that we’re losing.”
Lorna Ott, administrator of the Livingston Virtual program, said the content standards of the program “will be the same as those in our traditional brick-and-mortar schools” and will offer some students “the opportunity to excel in a different learning environment.”
Ott added that district leaders hope to offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses, College Board Exams (CLEP), and dual enrollment classes in partnership with local universities for students enrolled in Livingston Virtual.
“This program is designed to successfully deliver our virtual students to the same destination as our traditional students, but just by a different path,” Ott said.
Students who matriculate through the Livingston Virtual program will earn a standard high school diploma that meets state and school board requirements and is recognized by post-secondary education institutions, the military, and employers, Purvis said.
Students enrolled in Livingston Virtual will be tied to their school district. (For example: A 10th-grader living in Springfield would be counted in Springfield High’s enrollment). They will have access to extracurricular activities that are offered by their in-district schools, including after school activities, school sponsored dances, homecoming activities, graduation and potentially sports.
Additionally, the Livingston Virtual program will include community field trips within the structure to offer positive opportunities for service and social interaction, as well as mandatory class attendance, a minimum GPA requirement, and participation in standardized testing to adhere to state-mandated policies.
All transportation needs will be the responsibility of the student and/or parents.
Purvis said the district will begin accepting applications of interest on July 7. Those applications can be accessed electronically through Facebook at Livingston Virtual or on the web at www.livingstonvirtual.org.
The priority application deadline to apply for the fall semester is July 31, followed by the deadline for the spring semester Nov. 30. Limited openings are available, Purvis said, and applications and all requested documentation will be reviewed by the Livingston Parish Schools Admissions Committee to determine approved enrollment in the program.
An annual technology and supply fee of $100 per student will be required, as each student will be provided with a computer and curriculum.
Parents may also send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (225) 686-4333.