Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the OPtions Program.
Why would families choose the OPtions Program?
Some families desire to combine their children’s home-bound or online school experience with unique opportunities the school district can provide. This program is perfect for families who prefer to provide their children a combination of learning opportunities at home, online, and in school settings. Schools can provide specialized facilities that may extend or enrich children’s home or online learning. Parents often appreciate having access to local school district resources such as curriculum and facilities. Students who perform better on their “own” schedule, rather than on a traditional school day schedule, will find OPtions to be a great learning opportunity. The school may provide additional access to real world experiences, such as apprenticeships, which will complement home or online learning opportunities. Some students desire more involvement with their peers in academic and co-curricular activities as they get older. All of these, and more, are reasons families will choose the Elkhorn Area School District OPtions program.
The OPtions program provides an opportunity for your family to connect with others who are selecting this unique educational path to meet their children’s needs. Parents choosing the OPtions program value opportunities for their children to share some academic and social time with peers while also participating in other types of educational experiences (e.g., home-based learning, traditional texts, video text, online, project-based, etc.). Parents may select which classes their children attend with other students (e.g., band, biology, etc.). OPtions offers students the opportunity to participate in science labs, music, art, and other large group activities. Students in the OPtions program will have opportunities to perform in holiday programs, participate in special events such as a proms, science fairs, and a graduation ceremony, if they choose to do so.
Who is eligible to apply for participation in the OPtions program?
OPtions is open to any 4K-12 student residing in the Elkhorn Area School District. If interested in open-enrolling contact the program coordinator about the potential virtual charter school opening the 2015-2016 school year. Space availability in OPtions will be determined by the program coordinator and the superintendent. Parents must complete the application that will be reviewed by the program director and administrators. Details on the process for applying are covered in the next question/answer.
How many students will have the opportunity to participate in OPtions each year?
The 2014-15 school year will be the inaugural year for the EASD OPtions program. We anticipate serving 20-30 students during the first year, but are hopeful the number may be larger. The district hopes the number of students in OPtions increases every year.
How do I apply to the EASD OPtions program to enroll my children?
There are three approaches for applying for participation in the OPtions program.
Elkhorn Area School District Residents currently enrolled. If you are a resident and your children are currently enrolled in the district, please complete the application for the OPtions program. The application will be reviewed by the program coordinator and other administrators. After review, parents will be notified if their children may participate in the OPtions program.
Elkhorn Area School District Residents not currently enrolled. If you are a resident of the Elkhorn Area School District, and your children are not currently enrolled in the district, please complete the application for the OPtions program. The application will be reviewed by the program coordinator and other administrators. After review, parents will be notified if their children may participate in the OPtions program. The application will be reviewed by the program coordinator and other administrators. After review, parents will be notified if their children may participate in the OPtions program.
Non-Residents, Open Enrollment. Please contact the OPtions Program Coordinator about the potential Virtual Charter School opening the 2015-2016 school year.
What are the expectations for students in OPtions?
We expect and desire for all students to excel. Students and parents will collaborate with teachers to set educational goals. Parents, students, and teachers work together to customize the methods through which students will demonstrate academic progress as well as the ways that academic progress will be reported. Parents can choose if they want their children to receive traditional letter grades or if progress will be reported in another way. Progress reporting will reflect how students are meeting their goals by demonstrating their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Can my child participate in school but remain at home if they are in the OPtions program?
Yes. Families who enroll their children in the EASD OPtions program will work with the program coordinator to design the best programming to meet the needs of each child. Teachers, parents, and students work together to form a customized Student Learning Plan. Your child will partner with a teacher from the district who will enjoy working with you and your child to create customized lessons. The coordinator will work closely with the family to determine the best way to meet your child’s unique learning needs. While at home, parents are acting as the Learning Coach helping students achieve the learning goals from their student learning plan. In other cases, the parents may desire for their children to attend some classes or activities in school while others are in the home. The EASD OPtions program supports the role of the parent in the educational plan of the student. In any virtual setting, parental commitment to the educational process is pertinent to the success of a student. Parents and teachers work together to provide the academic foundation and inspiration to encourage students to be active and independent learners. The EASD OPtions Program applauds parent’s commitment to their child's academic success.
Will the OPtions program be appropriate for students of all ages?
Yes. Students from 4K-12 may participate in the OPtions program. In some cases, students may be offered programming with other students in their age range, or they may have the opportunity to participate in multi-age programs or use multi-age curriculum. The program coordinator will work with parents to ensure the programming meets the needs of each child.
Will there be one curriculum offered for all content areas and students of all ages?
Programming will be as individualized as possible. There will be no “cookie-cutter” curriculum required. The program coordinator will work with parents and students to provide the most appropriate programming and curriculum to meet each child’s needs. In some cases this may be a multi-age or a single age curriculum approach.
Can my child be educated at home and still participate in enrichment classes at the school building?
Yes. This is one of the major goals of the OPtions program, to provide parents flexibility and options on the methods they want to use to educate their children. The EASD OPtions program allows students to receive their education in a variety of environments including at home and in a school setting. It also gives students the opportunity to participate in several in-district classes, as well as programs offered online and through parents encouraging students to work through their customized student learning plan at home.
Families who have completed the PI 1206 form in the past may use to the “two class” limitation. Acceptance and enrollment into the OPtions program removes that limitation and provides full-time access. We encourage parents to consider applying for the Elkhorn Area School District OPtions program before completing the Home School Enrollment Report Form PI 1206. If you select to use the Home School Enrollment Report Form PI 1206, be aware that this limits the number of classes your children may take in district. It also limits your access to in-district educational resources and opportunities. Please speak with the program coordinator before making your decision on submitting PI 1206. If you prefer to use the PI 1206 approach, please contact the OPtions program coordinator so that she can direct you to the appropriate resource at the various schools in the district. Information on the Home-Based Private Educational programs is included on the site below. http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/sms_homeb
Please do not confuse the EASD OPtions program with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Course Options opportunity that allows students to take up to two classes from schools other than their resident school, at no cost. The DPI site that includes the Course Options Application Form (formerly entitled the “Part Time Open Enrollment Form PI 9412) is included. http://courseoptions.dpi.wi.gov
Once your application to the OPtions program is accepted you may register your child as a student of the Elkhorn Area School District and they will be able to access all the opportunities and possibilities the OPtions program has to offer.
Will services for students with special needs be available through OPtions?
Yes. Parents and students will have the opportunity to work with the program coordinator and specialists to assess and determine if a child has a special need, such as a reading delay or a need for occupational therapy. If a child has an identified need, the parents will work with the director of special education to create an individual education plan (IEP) and set specific goals to assist in meeting the needs of the child. If needed and desired, the child will work with specialists in the area of the identified need (e.g., hearing impaired, learning disabled, speech and language). These specialized support services are offered free of charge to any student with needs who is enrolled in the district. Parents with questions should contact the program director for more information. She will work closely with the director of special education to respond.
What kind of district classes may my children take as part of the OPtions program?
Students and parents may select any classes that are offered through the Elkhorn Area School District and where there is space is available. In some cases, students may have to demonstrate a level of proficiency to be in the class (e.g., advanced placement calculus). Students may also participate in online offerings available through the district and the classes offered at home. Parents may use district curriculum to support their work with children in their home.
Will my children have access to online classes?
Yes. Some classes offered through the district will be offered online at no additional cost to parents. Parents may also want to purchase their own online resources to use with their children, beyond what the district may offer. Families will need to have internet access for online classes.
Will my children be in online classes all day?
The amount of time each child will spend online will depend on the classes selected and the approach the parents and program coordinator select. It may be possible that an older child may spend more time online than a younger one. Again, this depends on the individualized programming for each child.
Will my children get a computer?
Students participating in the OPtions program who are in a class that requires a computing device, will be provided one at no cost to the participating family. This device will be sufficient to support the class requirements.
If my children are involved in an online program, will the teachers involved be local teachers?
The answer to this depends on the program. Some classes may be local and some may be part of a larger system. A major benefit to the Elkhorn Area School District OPtions program is that you and your children will have a coordinator and local teachers available to work with.
Will my children get the books or other resources needed for specific classes?
Yes. Students will be provided with the required resources for classes including books or access to online information provided through the Elkhorn Area School District classes. These materials are on loan from the district at no cost to families. If students withdraw from the district, the materials must be returned. Parents will also have the option to purchase materials if they withdraw their children. If parents choose to supplement the customized curriculum provided by the district with other resources, they will do that at their own cost (e.g., Apologia).
What might a child’s schedule look like?
The schedule depends on each child’s individual program. For example, if the student wants to be in high school band, and band meets every other day at x time - the student will need to be present in the class at those times on the days offered. If the student wants to take fourth grade science at one of the elementary schools, the program coordinator will need to identify when science is offered every day. The student would need to be present every day at that time. If the student is taking classes at home, the program coordinator will work with the parents and the teacher of record to develop a flexible pacing guide to ensure the student is progressing. If the student is in an online program, the time the student is online may be flexible, but they may have to progress at a pre-determined rate. As the OPtions program develops, the coordinator may create specific classes to meet the needs of a group of students. When students enroll and identify the classes they need and are interested in, they will learn more about schedules. As more families enroll their children in the OPtions program, more programming may be offered.
What type of assessments will my children be able to participate in and do I have to purchase the assessment materials?
The school district provides Measure of Academic Performance (MAP) assessments and state testing for students as they advance through the program. Parents and students will learn about these assessment tools and how they help parents, students, and teachers to develop the most appropriate programming and personalized goals for students. The district offers these standardized assessments with personal results for all students. Parents are not responsible for purchasing any materials related to these assessments. MAP testing is offered three times each year. State testing is offered at selected times during the school year. Parents will find this information extremely valuable as they work with their children to prepare them for future education and career opportunities. Watch for more information from the district to learn more about these assessments.
Will my children have to be in public performances?
No. Children are not required to be in public performances if that is the family preference. If the performance is one of the ways the child’s knowledge, skills, and abilities are assessed, an alternative method of assessment will be used.
What are potential opportunities for my children to socialize?
One of the unique aspects of OPtions is the amount and types of activities, classes, co-curriculars, and field trips available to children. Children enrolled in the OPtions program are limited only by their time, interests, and in some cases age, in what they desire to participate in. For example, a child may be in the band program during the school day and then choose to participate in jazz band (a co-curricular program) after school. A child may take a math class during the day and then select to participate in chess club after school. Students in middle and high school may choose to participate in an interscholastic activity where they will participate with peers and compete with students from other schools.
Will there be activities available exclusively to children in the OPtions program?
Yes, there will be some enrichment offerings in the areas of physical education, art, music, and life skills. Often activities will be multi-aged and offered either weekly or every other week. Also, some activities may be offered on an specific timeline (e.g., First Aid, child care skills).
How are my children’s educational records handled?
Wisconsin has specific laws governing how districts collect, maintain, and destroy pupil records, including academic and behavioral records. The Elkhorn Area School District values the privacy of all families and has specific policies in place to ensure that information is guarded. One of the primary reasons we collect information from families (e.g., contact information) is for student safety. We want to know who to contact and the best way to contact them if there is ever an emergency. We also want to ensure we keep families well informed. More detailed information on pupil records is available from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The link to a current publication on pupil records is included below. http://sspw.dpi.wi.gov/files/sspw/pdf/srconfid.pdf
Will my children be bused to and from school?
If your children live within the Elkhorn Area School District boundaries and is coming to a class at the beginning of the day, school district busing will be available. If children complete their in-district class before the end of the day, parents will need to provide transportation home. On the opposite end, if children have classes in-district at the end of the day, parents will have to provide transportation to the school and the children may take the district bus home at the end of the day. Parents of students who are “open enrolled” from outside the district must provide transportation for their children. Parents are always welcome to transport their children to/from school or if students live within close proximity to school, they may want to walk or ride a bike.
If my children are enrolled in the EASD OPtions program, will they have to be vaccinated?
Every parent has the choice of submitting a waiver to any vaccination for their children. Parents may indicate it is either their personal conviction or a religious reason for not having their children vaccinated. Schools are required to collect information on what vaccinations children have had to protect the health of all children and adults in the school environment. The information about your children’s vaccination is protected under federal and state privacy laws. Again, your preference about vaccinating or not vaccinating your children is respected.
May children in the OPtions program participate in the school lunch program?
Yes! Children in the OPtions program may participate in the school lunch and milk program. Information on the school lunch program is available online (see link below). Parents may want to learn more about the free/reduced lunch opportunity on the district site. http://easdfoodservices.weebly.com
How will my children’s food allergies or preferences be handled?
When schools are notified of a child’s dietary needs, they work with parents and food service staff to meet the child’s needs. Administrators will protect the child’s privacy, but will inform the classroom teacher of the needs so “treats” are not inadvertently given to the child. We work with parents to encourage their children to become more aware and strong self-advocates. The practice of supporting individual dietary needs is very common in schools.
Will there be a chance for parents of OPtions students to meet?
Yes! The program coordinator will share information on parent gatherings. During these times, ideas and programs will be discussed and guest speakers will be featured. Parents are encouraged to participate in other opportunities offered throughout the district to meet with teachers, coaches, advisors, directors, and administrators.
When can I meet with the program coordinator to get more information?
The district will host public meetings to provide more information on OPtions. Additionally, the program coordinator will be available for scheduled meetings on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the district office located at 3N Jackson St. Please call 847.899.0652 or send an email to email@example.com to schedule a meeting time.