ST. CLOUD -- Students in the St. Cloud Area School District could have another learning option starting next fall. At Wednesday night's meeting, the school board voted to submit an application for an online academy to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Director of Secondary Curriculum Jessica Moore says the goal is to create a more personalized and flexible opportunity for students.

A student could go faster than they would in a traditional brick-and-mortar school because if they're able to obtain that mastery because it's their passion or their interest or they just understand the material so well, they could go through it a little bit faster. Their attendance would be connected with progress towards graduation, so they would not necessarily have to come to class every day. They would do it in a manner that works for them.

Students in the program would be paired with a mentor to help them build a plan over the course of their education. Moore says graduation requirement classes and limited elective options would be offered online with opportunities to take classes or participate in activities at a physical school as well.

The virtual academy would be open to ninth through twelfth graders initially with the goal of opening it up to sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders in the future. Once the application is submitted, MDE has a 90-day window to respond to the district.

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