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Franklin Regional, union agree to start online learning academy

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 9:48 p.m.

Starting this fall, students can earn a Franklin Regional diploma online.

On Monday, officials of the district and its teachers union reached an agreement to form the Franklin Regional Online Learning Academy. The program will enable current FR students to take classes exclusively online, and officials said they hope it will lure former students back from cyber charter schools.

“This opens the door for us to create opportunities for kids,” Superintendent Jamie Piraino said. “If students want Franklin Regional credit but don't want the structure of a traditional school day, this is for them.”

Piraino said the program is expected to go live at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Currently, the district can offer 15 classes in a online model in math, English, communication, science, business and health. Piraino said additional courses will be developed in the coming years. Up to five more courses might be added for the next school year.

If a course isn't offered in-house, students can take it through the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's eAcademy, which offers hundreds of online courses.

“Literally, a student can take their whole schedule online,” Piraino said.

Beginning this school year, students were able to take three credits of online courses from programs outside of the district. Any class taken through the intermediate unit that the district does not offer won't count against those credits, Piraino said.

The program will be developed during the next 18 months.

“We believe that we can provide a better quality for a better price for these students than what it's costing the taxpayers to send students to cyber charter schools,” Piraino said. “I think it's exciting for the students, staff and community at Franklin Regional.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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