PHS to offer online classes in fall

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales High School is starting online courses in August that will allow students to take core classes such as English, math and history at home.
Portales Principal Melvin Nusser said the program provides students the option of a different classroom setting to learn. It will also give home-school students the opportunity to earn a PHS diploma.
Director of Technology Mike Rackler said 60 students already enrolled for online classes in the fall. Nusser said he would like to see the number at 100 to 120.
“In the last few years, we have lost half a dozen students who had to go to work,” Rackler said. “With this option, they can still go to work.”
High school representatives will give a presentation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the high school cafeteria to enable parents and students to see how the classes will be instructed.
The instruction is pre-recorded and students can communicate with their teachers electronically. However, state-mandated tests will be completed on campus. Teachers may require some tests to be completed on campus.
Rackler said Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, obtained $50,000 through the Legislature for the program.
Electives such as agriculture, computer science, driver education, performing arts, athletics, consumer science and fine arts will be offered either through evening classes or on the PHS campus.
Nusser said online students will have access to the same benefits as traditional students. For example, they can participate in extra-curricular activities.
Even though students will be able to earn high school credits from home, Nusser said they will still be required to have a two-hour homeroom session for a minimum of four weeks from Monday through Thursday at the start of the semester.
“It gives students flexibility in their schedules,” Nusser said. “They can attend more than one homeroom session. There are no limitations. It’s not a cure-all. Certain kids learn in a different way.”
The homeroom sessions allow teachers to make sure the students are not falling behind.
Nusser said if the student fails the class after the fall semester they will take the course in a classroom setting for the spring semester.
Administrators conducted an online survey early in the semester to find out how many high school students had access to a computer at home. There were 360 students surveyed and 82 percent of them said they had a computer at home, including 66 percent with Internet access.
The students were also asked if they would be interested in taking online courses and 63 percent said they would.