Applications accepted for Virtual Academy

The Van Buren School District is accepting applications for its charter school, River Valley Virtual Academy, scheduled to open in August.

Applications are available online at the district’s website or at the VBSD administration office at 2221 W. Pointer Trail.

At a Tuesday media event, Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat said that although the virtual academy will feature a self-paced format, students and their families will receive extensive district support from on-site staff.

River Valley Virtual Academy will be located at the Van Buren High School Freshman Academy on the Coleman Campus.

It will have a capacity of 325 kindergarten through 12th grade students under the direction of Jennifer Feeny, who will be the charter school’s coordinator. Feeny currently is assistant principal at Northridge Middle School.

Feeny noted students living outside the district’s boundaries have until May 1 to apply to participate in the School Choice Program. Application forms are available at the administration office.

School Choice is the program authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in Act 560 of 2015 which allows parents to apply for their child’s admission to participating school districts other than the one in which they reside.

Students selected for the virtual academy will undergo a two-week orientation, scheduled to begin in mid-April.

“This will give the students the opportunity to decide if this is what they really want,” Feeny said.

Applications will be accepted through Sept. 8 for the 2017-18 school term.

River Valley Virtual Academy was approved by the Arkansas State Board of Education in November.

Feeny said the academy will help target demographics that VBSD feels could benefit most from a virtual-based curriculum, including local homeschool families, homebound students, accelerated learners, and at-risk students who may struggle in a typical learning environment.

VBSD Director of Curriculum Nancy Robbins said courses for 2017-18 have been approved by the state and include a large number of AP classes as well as concurrent classes.

Tammi Hamby and Candace Bowen, two parents interested in the virtual academy, also attended Tuesday’s media event.

Both said they believed the children would benefit from the online format designed to enable students to spend more time on course content if needed, or advance at a quicker rate in their studies.