Sullivan County schools to offer online courses next year

Rick Wagner • May 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Class may be a few computer clicks away for Sullivan County high school students next school year.

County public school students will be able to take online courses from their home school system in the 2009-10 school year, the Sullivan County Board of Education decided last week.

During a called meeting in the middle of a daylong retreat at Northeast State Technical Community College Wednesday, the board voted 5-0 to adopt the high school online courses outlined by Assistant Director of Schools Gene Johnson.

Johnson said some Sullivan students already are taking online courses from Tennessee High School in Bristol, Tenn., which developed a program for $100,000 with a grant from the Greeneville-based Niswonger Foundation.

However, under what the board approved, Sullivan County Schools will put course offerings on county computer servers and offer the courses straight from Sullivan County, Director of Schools Jack Barnes said. That means students won’t have to transfer the credits from Tennessee High to their home high school of Sullivan North, South, Central or East.

The cost will be about $100 per course, and students may not be able to access them until the second semester, the winter of 2010.

“This is the way things are going, so we don’t need to sit back and wait on it,” said BOE member Jerry Greene of the Bristol area.

Barnes and Johnson said the online offerings are not the same as the distance learning program Tennessee High also has, which uses cameras and monitors to connect students and teachers in real time practically anywhere.

“This is our first stop,” Barnes said.

Classes to be offered by Sullivan County are Algebra 1a and 1b, Algebra 1, Algebra II, Geometry, English II, English III, English IV, Modern History, Biology, Advanced Physical Education, Cosmetology Theory, Ecology, Computer Applications, Career Management Success, U.S. History and Government & Economics.

Johnson said other courses may be offered as they become available, developed either by Tennessee High, Sullivan County or possibly another source.

The board also voted to approve other special but non-online courses: Life Skills Transition, Interpretations of Dramatic Literature and ACT Test Preparation.

In other action, the board:

• Voted 5-0 to approve inter-budgetary transfers that must also go before the County Commission for approval. Barnes said a large part of the resolution is shifting money saved from lower gasoline and diesel prices to pay for increased electricity and other utility costs.

• Voted 5-0 to approve adoption of textbooks to be used for the next six years in K-12 science, health/lifetime wellness, agriculture and family/consumer sciences.

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