ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Now in its second full academic year, the Falcon Flex online schooling initiative is looking to innovate and expand.
Originally intended for enrollment in the program were Clinton-Massie students who struggled in a traditional educational situation, such as youths who couldn’t be in the school setting due to a medical condition, or maybe they were up for expulsion, or they needed an avenue to recover credits.
Falcon Flex can provide these students and their families a non-traditional approach to education that includes flexible scheduling, extracurricular opportunities, and a pathway that leads to a Clinton-Massie High School diploma.
The first year for Falcon Flex saw a total of 15 high school students enrolled. That grew to 36 students this school year, as they added students because of the pandemic, and also opened it up to “fifth-year seniors” and elementary-grades children.
The two Clinton-Massie educators in charge of Falcon Flex, Jennifer Hursey and Donna Potts, gave a presentation at Monday’s school board meeting about the program.
At the end of their talk, Clinton-Massie Local Schools Board President Jeremy Lamb said education needs “to meet kids where they are at — not everybody can do a brick-and-mortar, 7:30 to 2:30 school day.”
It also has the added advantage, he said, of enabling Clinton-Massie to keep money that otherwise goes to virtual academies when students in the district choose that route.
Lamb said the pandemic has made it clear things are changing in the world of academics.
“This gives us a good foothold to be on the front edge of a lot of this change, and offers us a lot of benefits, not only for our students but financially for the district,” he said.
Three Clinton-Massie 2019-20 seniors did not have enough credits last spring to graduate, and were offered Falcon Flex this school year so they could still obtain a Clinton-Massie diploma.
Two of the three accepted, said Potts, and one of them has already collected the required credits, with the other continuing to study.
“We do provide support to them,” Potts said.
Of this school year’s 36 Falcon Flex participants, nine of them are open-enrollment students. And out of the 36, seven are special education students.
Along with the online instruction, Falcon Flex involves weekly check-ins through Google Meet video conference, virtual parent conferences, tutoring, typically unannounced home visits and wellness checks, and decorated homemade cookies for Student of the Month.
In other matters, Clinton-Massie Director of Innovation and Learning David Moss stated he and Superintendent Matt Baker are meeting to discuss options for gifted students and the development of a K-12 gifted framework.
Clinton-Massie High School Principal Aaron Seewer said district educators are looking toward summer school planning.
“We recognize there is a significant number of students — more than normal — that are credit deficient, off-track, whether that’s getting to a vocational destination or whether that’s getting toward graduation,” Seewer said.
Baker, citing data from Clinton-Massie mental health therapist Kelsey Satterfield, said from Aug. 31 through March 9, Satterfield had 688 case notes documented, and almost half of the students whom she has served are students with special needs.
Treasurer Carrie Bir said the school district will receive $1,356,666 from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, sometimes called a COVID-19 economic stimulus package.
Twenty percent of Clinton-Massie’s allotted $1.3 million must go toward addressing students’ learning loss that occurred during the pandemic, a percentage that amounts to about $271,000. The American Rescue Plan funds that Clinton-Massie will be getting can be spent through Sept. 30, 2024.
Some of the funds will go for the Annex demolition, said Bir.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.