Lee Virtual School prepares for increased enrollment next school year

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Lee Virtual School
Credit: WINK News.

With School District of Lee County’s virtual school option, Lee Home Connect, being eliminated for the next school year, many people could turn to Lee Virtual School.

We looked at how LVS would adjust to an increase in new students.

The pandemic brought LVS from the smallest school in the district to the biggest in the area virtually overnight.

The pandemic caused Barbie Sarante to enroll her 5th-grader in LVS, and she’s doing well a year later.

“She’s really flourishing,” Sarante said. “She’s doing really awesome at her own pace. She’s ahead of the game if you will.”

Sarante’s daughter was one of thousands of kids in the District to switch from face-to-face learning straight to LVS.

Before the pandemic, LVS had 360 students and about 30 teachers. Those numbers skyrocketed this school year.

At its height, 9,000 students were enrolled to LVS with about 200 teachers.

As of Friday, about 2,400 students and 100 teachers made up LVS.

“I would have never thought a year ago talking about this that we would’ve seen the numbers like we did in the movement like we did,” LVS Principal Al Shilling said.

Shilling knows LVS’ enrollment will probably never go back to a couple hundred students, especially now that Lee Home Connect will disconnect about 13,000 students for the next school year.

“We all wanna know what the numbers are going to be, but unfortunately, we have to wait and see the movement,” said Clayton Simmons the executive director for high school s and special centers.

Sarante says she already re-enrolled her daughter for 6th grade. It remains to be seen where she will go after that.

“I think I’m going to leave it up to her, especially if she is going to continue doing so well,” Sarante said. “She is one of the older kids, so she kind of knows what she wants. Gotta let them make their own decisions at some point in time. Right?”

LVS won’t know how many students it will have until enrollment deadline July 15.

Other virtual schools in Southwest Florida might see an increase in enrollment as well.

Charlotte Count Public Schools will discontinue Innovative E-learning, so it will only offer Charlotte Virtual.

Collier County Public Schools will discontinue its Classroom Connect program. The only online option will be E-Collier Virtual Academy.

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