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August 14, 2020

PVUSD approves Virtual Academy for upcoming year

WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to create a virtual academy for the 2020-21 school year.

The PVUSD Virtual Academy will be formed as an alternative school with its own teachers, administration and curriculum.

PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said that the proposal came after numerous students, parents, guardians and caretakers said in a survey that they wanted a distance-only option, regardless of whether PVUSD decided to return its students to the classroom later in the year.

More than 50% of the respondents, Rodriguez said, stated that they would take their children to different districts if PVUSD did not offer a virtual option.

The estimated loss of 100 students would mean a $1.12 million hit to the budget, Rodriguez said.

“These numbers are showing us we will lose students if we don’t do this,” she said. “We really can’t afford to lose another 100 or 200 students to someone else, and there are other options out there that they would be able to go to.”

Launching the online academy, on the other hand—estimated at just over $1.9 million—will be cost-neutral, since no facility is necessary and the district can use existing per-pupil funding, Rodriguez said.

The Virtual Academy will serve approximately 335 students in grades K-12. 

The school will have a full-time principal, an office manager, a site-based computer technician, and an academic counselor, along with 13 teachers. 

Those numbers could change if enrollment increases, Rodriguez said, adding that the school could accommodate as many as 1,700 students.

PVUSD Virtual Academy’s curriculum will align with common core requirements, and students will receive state testing. 

Students throughout PVUSD could attend, and the district has seen interest from students outside the district, adding the possibility of additional funding, Rodriguez said.

To date, district staff have received approximately 500 notices of intent to enroll at PVUSD Virtual Academy for the upcoming school year.  

The item passed 5-2, with trustees Jennifer Schacher and Georgia Acosta dissenting.

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