WELLSBORO - The Wellsboro Online Academy has been beneficial for both students, families and taxpayers, offering students flexibility and different course options at a lower cost.

Ben Largey presented information to the Wellsboro Area School District board of directors at the June 7 work session. At the end of the 2021-22 school year, there were 51 full-time students plus many others that attended the WOA part-time.

The greatest number of students are in high school where there were eight students each in 10th and 11th grade and 14 students in 12th grade. Had those students attended a cyber charter school, the district would have paid an estimated $648,000 in tuition, he said.

Using a third-party vendor, such as teachers from Accelerated Education, would have cost an estimated $195,075, Largey said. Instead, the WOA costs the district about $91,467 to operate using local teachers for instruction.

Wellsboro is one of five school districts in BLaST Intermediate Unit #17 to use local teachers in its online program.

In the past year, 229 Wellsboro students used the WOA to recover credits for failed courses, 101 completed half-credit courses and 984 completed quarter-credit courses.

The program meets a lot of needs for students with medical issues, mental health, behavioral needs, in place of expulsion or a flexible environment for students exploring career options, Largey said.

This past year, the district hired Tammy Giarth as the head teacher for the WOA. she updated the website and worked to engage students and communicate with parents and staff on student progress. She also staffed the cyber resource room at the high school to assist both part- and full-time students.

In response to a question from the board, Largey said this summer about the same number of students are recovering credits for courses in the WOA as are enrolled in accelerated courses.

The district still had about 70 students enrolled in cyber charter schools, an increase after the COVID shutdowns from the usual number of about 30, Largey said. While the district continues to communicate with those families to try to bring those students back, the emphasis of the WOA is to create and maintain programs to meet the needs of students in the program, he said.

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