School board says OK to online courses

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales school board members gave Portales High School principal Melvin Nusser the go-ahead on offering online courses at Portales High School in the fall.
School board members spent more than 90 minutes discussing the online courses with Nusser, Mike Rackler, director of technology, and outgoing superintendent James Holloway.
Nusser said he already has 37 students enrolled in the online courses and hopes to have 60 students enrolled by the end of the spring semester for the fall semester.
Core courses such as math, science, English and social studies will be offered online and students can choose to take electives in the evenings such as foreign languages, web design, driver’s education and welding on campus. Nusser said students can also take physical education classes and participate in extra-curricular activities.
School board member Alan Garrett said he was concerned that the student had a contractual obligation to the online course for a semester.
“I’m concerned because the student could be ruined if the program doesn’t work,” Garrett said. “I’d feel better if there was a limit to the amount of online courses they could take.”
Nusser said students can take all four core classes online. He said online students will be required to have a two-hour session from Monday to Thursday for the first four weeks. They can lower the amount of required classes if they obtain good grades.
Students can go on-campus for more than the two-hour blocks if they feel they are falling behind.
“I refuse to believe that the only way a student can learn is from an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. setting,” Nusser said. “I believe this can work.”
Broad Horizons Educational Center principal Sharon Haught said she has a concern with the online courses being offered to ‘at-risk’ students (students who are falling behind on their grades).
“My experience with at-risk students is that many of them have low self-esteem,” Haught said. “Many of at-risk students have to have face-to-face teaching. They don’t have face-to-face attention where they come from and that’s why they’re at-risk to begin with.”
In other business at the meeting:
l A Portales High School student was recognized on Monday during the school board meeting for winning an essay contest which won her a trip to Spain. Marina Pina, a PHS junior, wrote a 500-word essay in Spanish in a contest sponsored by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
Pina will take a trip to Madrid, Spain in the summer for three weeks to take courses as a result of winning.
l Portales High School choir members were recognized for participating in the Music Maestro Please festival on May 1 in New York City. Franklin Smith, choir director, said the students also visited the Statute of Liberty, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Many of the students said they enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera show the most. Smith said the choir students won bronze medals for their participation in the music festival.