Liberty is offering a blended learning option for students



Liberty’s online school aims to begin classes in the fall.

The Mahoning County Educational Service Center is partnering with the Liberty School District to create the Leopard Cyber Academy, the district’s online school.

Superintendent Joseph Nohra said this is a step toward being a future-ready school. Nohra said the school board is strategically planning how to better serve students in traditional and nontraditional programs.

The board will vote to approve the program Monday, but Nohra said board members have expressed support for the LCA.

Students can begin enrolling once the board votes for approval.

Board member Calvin Jones said he is fully behind being a future-ready school “connecting students with how we think the world will be in three to five years.”

“We don’t want our kids to fit the program, we want the programs to fit the kid,” board member Diana DeVito said.

Students can take all their classes online, or have a mixture of online and traditional classes.

Nohra said the board wanted a program that could be tailored to every student.

LCA students will meet with mentors at least once a week, can meet with guidance counselors as needed, and the school will provide transportation.

MCESC will provide teachers for the live classes.

Jayson Yeagley, instructional supervisor with MCESC, said the online program provides classes at different skill levels, including honors classes.

“School used to operate in a one-size-fits-all model, but ... students need other options,” Yeagley said

Electives that most traditional schools don’t have, such as game design and biotechnology, will be offered.

Students enrolled in the online program can participate in Liberty’s extracurricular activities, sports and clubs.

The board also is working toward creating a success center housed in the district starting this fall, which will include the online school, a credit-recovery program and Career Based Intervention. The goal is to prepare students for the path they choose after high school.

Educational service company FuelEd, based in Virginia, will provide the curriculum.

Students from other schools can open enroll in this online school.

Nohra said the school loses more than 250 students a year because of other options such as charter schools or open enrollment, and he hopes to provide solutions that will retain more students in the district. The cost of the program for the district will be about $1,400 per student for a full year, and there are no extra out-of-pocket costs for students.

Nohra said the online school option was something that was suggested by parents at the Your School Your Voice meetings.

“We heard them loud and clear. The community needs other educational options,” he said.

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