Online school pursues charter renewal

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON – The state’s first online charter school has started the process to renew its agreement with the Farmington Municipal School District to continue operating.

Student Monica Jackson talks with staff members while working on her English homework in August 2013 at the New Mexico Virtual Academy in Farmington.

Staff at the New Mexico Virtual Academy turned in its completed charter renewal application to Farmington school district officials today.

The Farmington schools Board of Education approved the charter application during a special meeting on Sept. 22, 2011, according to board minutes. The school – which opened in August 2012 for the 2012-2013 school year — has an enrollment cap of 500 students and serves sixth through 12th grade.

“We do feel strongly that this is an extremely viable school,” NMVA Director Carla Bishop-Morález said. “That virtual education has been a savoir of a lot of students.”

Bishop-Morález said the school’s current charter agreement with Farmington schools is scheduled to end of the current 2016-2017 school year on June 30.

The charter school earlier this year approved an updated agreement with the company that provides curriculum and educational services for its online learning environment.

The NMVA Governing Council and K12 Inc. — the for-profit company — renewed the educational products and services agreement in June.

Some of the paperwork submitted for the charter renewal application includes reports on student achievement, academic growth and information on the school's financial operations.

Every staff member at the charter school and about 77 percent of student body submitted a petition to Farmington schools, advocating for the renewal of the charter, Bishop-Morález said.

Governing Council President Lawrence Palmer said he was happy with the work Bishop-Morález, council members, representatives from K12 Inc. and others put into completing the charter renewal application.

The next steps in the charter renewal process involve Farmington school district officials reviewing the application and working with the NMVA to refine its application, Bishop-Morález said.

Phil Valdez, deputy superintendent for Farmington schools, said the district plans to follow the charter renewal application timeline established by the New Mexico Public Education Department for the current school year.

The timeline is for charter schools that are approved by the New Mexico Public Education Commission but were not charted by a school district.

According to the timeline, the charter application is scheduled to be voted on in early December. Further contract negotiations between NMVA and Farmington schools is expected to start in January and run through May.

The online charter school also recently decided to remain at its current location at 845 N. Sullivan Ave. in Farmington instead of relocating to an office at 4001 N. Butler Ave.

Bishop-Morález said the owners of the building decided to lower the school's monthly lease from $4,580 to $2,850.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

The New Mexico Virtual Academy, located at 845 N. Sullivan Ave. in Farmington, is working to renew its agreement with the Farmington Municipal School District.