A state grant will help the Booneville School District move closer to offering a virtual high school diploma option that could be made available to students statewide.
Superintendent Dr. Todd English recently updated the district’s board on the $125,000 grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
English said the grant to the district will support the development of a virtual diploma that would eventually be rolled out statewide. Already a leader in providing online education with local teachers offering virtual classes in many areas that are available to students in districts across the state, the district’s participation in the online diploma program is another effort aimed at addressing the state’s growing teacher shortage in key subject areas and helping give students options that can encourage them to stay in school.
The online programs also bring in additional revenue to the Booneville district which helps support district programs without requiring more local tax funds.
English said the state is facing a major and growing issue in filling teaching positions as more current teachers are retiring than the number of new teachers graduating from university programs. The problem is more acute in some districts than others and he believes online programs that allow teachers in one location to serve students across the state will be vital to addressing the issue. Positioning the Booneville district as a leader in that area places the district in a great place for the future.
English also noted the district is expected to receive around $1 million in additional federal stimulus funds and leaders are currently determining exactly how those funds will be spent given the detailed rules for what areas they can be used for.
He said part of the money will be used for needed repairs to several buildings including the replacement of aging HVAC systems.
The money will also go to programs designed to address learning loss caused by the pandemic, particularly in the lower grades where students gain key reading skills that must be grasped early in order to be successful, he explained.
“We have to look at the stark reality that there is a group of children that’s missed the formative reading years of their lives,” he said.