Paso Robles schools expand online course offerings for middle and high school students

Paso Robles High School.
Paso Robles High School.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District will soon offer middle and high school students the chance to take classes almost entirely online — becoming the first public district to do so in San Luis Obispo County.

School board trustees recently approved the $47,000 Edgenuity online curriculum to be used by the newly developed Paso Robles Online Academy. Students enrolled in the academy can access all their courses online starting in sixth grade. Those in the program must be logged on for a certain number of hours per day and must meet with a teacher at least once a week.

Paso Robles Online Academy information sessions March 29: 6 to 7 p.m., Paso Robles School District board room, 800 Niblick Road. May 16: 6 to 7 p.m., Paso Robles School District board room, 800 Niblick Road (Spanish translation available). May 24: 5 to 6 p.m., Independence High School open house, 812 Niblick Road. May 30: 6 to 7 p.m., Paso Robles School District board room, 800 Niblick Road.

Middle school students have 14 course offerings, and high school students have 58 courses available. The courses include the core subjects of math, science, English and social studies/history, as well as foreign languages and electives.

In addition to the online classes, traditional district students can also access ACT, SAT and PSAT preparatory classes through the online portal, said Alisha Lewis, the district teacher on special assignment for online education

The Paso Robles Online Academy started with four full-time students in the fall and grew to 19 when the program expanded in January. Lewis will be holding information events next week and in May to encourage students to sign up for the fall term, when she said she hopes to draw about 50 students. She said the program could expand to 100 students over the next two to three years.

“It just opens up a lot more flexibility for a student’s schedule,” she said.

Lewis said a variety of students could find the online option attractive, including those participating in extracurricular competitions and activities, those who work during the day, those who travel with their families, and those who are sick or helping sick family members. Home-schooled students also can make use of the program, as long as they enroll in the district.

“You don’t have to be stuck to that 8-to-3 schedule,” Lewis said.

The academy is offered free of charge to district students, who are also provided with a Chromebook to use throughout the program, Lewis said. County students living outside Paso Robles can participate in the academy if they transfer into the district.

“It’s kind of just another choice for families,” she said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27