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District moving forward with Virtual Academy

T-R photos by Trevor Babcock Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson presented to the Marshalltown School Board the approval of the Marshalltown Virtual Academy by the Iowa Department of Education, which the board voted to begin seeking students for participation.

Marshalltown Virtual Academy will begin seeking students.

Receiving approval by the Iowa Department of Education to create Marshalltown Virtual Academy given adequate participation, Director of Instruction Lisa Stevenson sought approval from the Marshalltown Community School Board to begin soliciting an adequate number of students to create the school at their regular meeting Monday night.

“We’re pretty excited, even though we have a lot of work to do on the backside,” Stevenson said.

Goals of the Marshalltown Virtual Academy include providing a path for Marshalltown students who like learning virtually, as well as attracting students. The motion to move forward with the Marshalltown Virtual Academy carried unanimously, and marketing for the new online-only school will soon begin.

Addressing the barriers of accessible internet access, the Marshalltown School District applied to be a part of Verizon’s Innovative Learning Schools Initiative, which would provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to students in grades sixth through twelfth who are on free or reduced lunch.

“Last March we were all thrown for a loop, and my team especially worked pretty diligently to try to get internet access to kids throughout the district,” Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said. “It was difficult to think of a way to make that sustainable, so we started looking into grants and program initiatives.”

Of the 148 districts across the United States seeking approval for the program, Marshalltown School District gained approval along with 30 other districts nationwide.

The school board voted unanimously to participate in the program initiative for the last two and a half years, allowing the hotspots to begin shipment.

The Virtual Academy was not the only project moving forward at the Monday meeting.

Air conditioning for Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary School have moved closer to being underway, with the school board awarding Garling Construction Company a contracted bid of $5.2 million.

The air conditioning project also includes the additives at the high school of LED lighting, classroom flooring replacements and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and dehumidification for the pool, along with replacing the south windows at Anson Elementary School.

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Contact Trevor Babcockat 641-753-6611 or tbabccock@timesrepublican.com

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