Weld RE-4 School District to end Inspire4 online school at the end of the school year

Citing low participation numbers, the Weld RE-4 School District will end its online school option at the end of academic year.

Inspire4 K-12 Online School was operated by the district this year as an alternative for families and students to in-person school with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are 572 students in the online school this year.

Weld RE-4 announced its decision Thursday afternoon in communications from district leaders to staff, parents and families.

“Due to current staffing levels in our buildings, we are unable to approve any transitions prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year,” Weld RE-4 Superintendent Dan Seegmiller said in an email. “Inspire Online Principal Sheila Bowman and I are both committed to a strong end to the year for all students. This is a commitment shared by Assistant Principal Josh Urich and all of our Inspire Online teachers. They will continue to work with students to ensure their success and prepare them for a smooth transition at the end of the year. Be assured we are also working with these valued leaders and teachers on their own placements for 2021-2022.”

District spokeswoman Lisa Relou said the decision to end the online program was made after the district received results of a survey on enrollment sent to families in December. Among the questions asked Relou said the survey sought to find out if families preferred a return to brick-and-mortar buildings for 2021-22 or an online option.

Only 51 families said with certainty they wanted an online option for next year, making it not financially feasible for the district to assume the cost of the program.

Relou did not say how much Inspire4 costs the district; Weld RE-4 provides all of the staffing for the approximately 30 positions and the district also has to pay for student access to learning programs including from outside providers such as Colorado Digital Learning Solutions and BYU Extended Learning.

“It’s personnel and buying programming,” Relou said, adding there are a lot of different costs.

She also said the district won’t rule out offering an online school model in the future.

“We want to take time to figure out what that looks,” Relou said.

In Seegmiller’s email to Inspire4 online families, the superintendent said the district looks forward to welcoming the families back to school buildings in the fall.

“We want to thank your family for responding to a survey in December regarding 2021-2022 enrollment,” Seegmiller wrote in his email. “We have tremendous confidence in Inspire’s leaders and teachers, as well as the instructional program.”

Seegmiller’s email advised the families their students will be enrolled in the families’ boundary school for next school year. Families were also notified that if their students’ 2019-20 school was not the families’ boundary school, the student may return to the boundary school by sending an email to the district by Jan. 22 at [email protected].

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