virtual school

LIVINGSTON – The Livingston Parish school system is planning its own virtual school, according to Superintendent Joe Murphy.

There is no timetable on when the school will be established or go “live,” he said.

“There’s a lot to be done first,” Murphy said Thursday.

“We’re committed to doing it.”

A virtual school, also called an online school, e-school or cyber-school, teaches students entirely or primarily online or through the Internet, according to the website Learn.org.

Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy

Virtual schools offer distance education opportunities where students can communicate with teachers and other students over the Internet, the website says.

Depending on the program, coursework may be delivered by e-mail, video conferencing, DVD, printed materials, telephone or Web conferencing, Learn.org says.

Courses may also be delivered in a manner that requires students to be present at certain days and times or may allow students to complete work at their convenience.

Murphy first mentioned the idea Tuesday at the meeting of the School Board’s Plant/Site Committee.

During a discussion about expanding parking at the Literacy & Technology Center in Walker, Murphy said space there may be earmarked for the virtual school.

“The idea is virtual, but we may need to bring people in for testing,” Murphy said.

Depending on how the virtual school is set up, students may be required to come in “five days a week, three days or one day,” he said.

Students enrolled at a virtual school run by the school district would be eligible for other educational services they may need, Murphy said Thursday.

Another advantage of a virtual school would be to return state funding back to the Livingston Parish system, the superintendent said.

“I’ve talked with (Assistant Superintendent) Jody Purvis and we have an issue with MFP money going to virtual schools,” Murphy said.

The Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) is a formula used by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to distribute funding to school districts for each student.

Each student’s MFP share follows the student; if a Livingston Parish child enrolls in a virtual school, that school gets the MFP share instead of the parish school district.  

The last report from the state Department of Education said two virtual schools in Baton Rouge were getting $2 million in MFP funding meant for Livingston Parish schools, Murphy said.

 “I would liken it to being in its infancy stage, but I feel as superintendent we need to begin our own virtual school to recapture the MFP money,” Murphy said.

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