Carlton School Board Explores Expanding Online Classes – Cloquet Pine Journal

CARLTON — The potential expansion of online elective course offerings for grades 6 through 12 through Edgenuity, an online learning company, was explored in more detail at the meeting of the Carlton School Board on Monday, March 21.

Reducing in-person electives is one of the cost-cutting initiatives the board has considered in its goal to halve its $500,000 budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Scott Mader, Edgenuity’s Minnesota account manager, presented some of the options available to the district during the board meeting via Zoom.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company offers licensed courses, which are made available through different models tailored to the needs of the district.

The Carlton School District currently uses Edgenuity through its concurrent licensing model for credit recovery, as well as non-instructor-in-person electives in German and French classes.

Carlton Middle/High School has 10 concurrent licenses, allowing up to 10 students to enroll in online courses for a period. In a bundle provided by Edgenuity, pricing for concurrent licenses starts at $1,000 and is discounted based on volume and contract length.

“When (a student is) logged in and working, it counts as that seat. When they log out, another student can step in and take that seat and use it and take any (class) again he wants in our library so he can use it at that time,” Mader explained.

A single user license, which is not currently used by the district, grants access to multiple courses at any time for an individual student. The license is not reusable for another student, unlike the competing model. The price for this option is $500 per single-user license.

The last option is a per enrollment model, which gives access to only one student per semester course. The cost for a student using this model taking an Algebra II course for one semester, for example, would be $50.

The Carlton School District has expressed interest in using Edgenuity for electives in the areas of art, business, and health, in particular. Online courses for classes that don’t have the optimal number of students in the 18-20 range to require an in-person instructor would be considered for online learning, Superintendent John Engstrom said.

The range of 18 to 20 students in a class was described as the “break-even point” in which a chapter would not lose money, according to Engstrom during the March 14 full committee.

“If we had classes that kind of hit that threshold in the one-to-one class, those might be classes that you might consider offering in-person,” Engstrom said. “Then other classes in those areas could be run in the Edgenuity license…it would be more profitable.”

The expansion of Edgenuity and the subsequent reduction of one class period from the class schedule of full-time in-person elective teachers would save Carlton approximately $11,345 per year. A reduction of two class periods would save about $30,023, according to the package provided by the board. Estimated cost savings do not include expenses for Edgenuity services.

The board has not taken steps to expand its online course offerings, but will continue to discuss the matter at future meetings.

Board votes to cut superintendent benefits

In a unanimous 4–0 vote, the Carlton School Board approved the one-year extension of Engstrom’s contract with the elimination of the corresponding 403(b) benefit as a cost-cutting measure.

The decision frees up about $12,000 to $13,000 for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget.

The council had previously set a goal to cut its budget deficit in half, as the district faces a budget shortfall of about $500,000.

Engstrom recommended the cut to the board during the March 14 committee of the whole.

“I just feel like it’s important to take something out of the superintendent position, also if we’re asking other people to take a hit,” Engstrom said.

The council will meet again on Monday, April 11 in committee of the whole.

Karen O. Fielding