Impact of virtual learning positive at Garaway

*This story first appeared in The Budget’s June 27, 2018, Local Edition

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

Members of the Garaway Board of Education learned about the positive impact the school’s virtual academy has had over the past three years last week.

“It’s really been a good thing all the way around,” explained Superintendent James Millet. “We have seen growth each year and have our goals set into the future to continue growing and evolving.”

Millet explained that educationally-speaking, Garaway Virtual Academy (GVA) has allowed more elective options than ever before while also providing flexibility for students. “GVA has also allowed internship and school-to-work opportunities that the school has not been able to offer in the past,” Millet said. “This allows students to have a blended option of classroom instruction and independent study.”

Enrollment has essentially doubled each of the last three years which Millet attributes to good outcomes and the diligent work of Chuck Zobel, who is the director of the program. In 2015-16, there were 25 students in GVA. The following year that number grew to 50 students. “For 2017-18, we had an average of 100 students in GVA,” Millet stated. “We saw a large uptick when ECOT closed as well. We anticipate continued growth.”

As the number of students at GVA grows, the financial impact on the district does as well. Last year, the program brought in approximately $600,000. “I know that we would love to see this program continue to grow and are set up for that,” Millet said. “We have brought in Brian Gibson as our head teacher to help students when they need that one-on-one interaction from a teacher who is dedicated solely to GVA.”

The impact on the school report card was also discussed. Millet indicated that social studies and science scores have steadily risen, while math and English/language arts scores have fallen a bit. “Overall though, there is much of a difference between traditional students and those at GVA,” he said.

There are continuous curriculum improvements, and by using several providers, the best of the best in terms of course offerings will be made available to students.

In other action, the board:

AGREED to table an idea to create an official Board of Education Handbook. The matter was brought up recently and was researched by member Mary Prysi and Superintendent Millet. “I have two handbooks here, and they’re quite different,” Prysi explained. “The Ohio School Board Association has a template we can use that is $500, or there is an option to have them do everything for $2,500.” She went on to explain that the Gar- away Board of Education already has a policy in place.“This seems like time and money not well spent,” Prysi said. A motion was made by Prysi and seconded by Dick Marshall to officially table the idea. The motion passed. Members April Beachy and Dan Fearon were not present.

APPLAUDED David Wallace for his 31 years of service to Garaway. Accompanied by his daughter, Laura, Wallace was awarded a plaque to commemorate his retirement. He was described as a gentleman and scholar.