By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. —As Buhler USD 313 contemplates whether or not to run a parallel virtual school for K-12 students, Superintendent Cindy Couchman said Wednesday it's about serving all the kids they can here locally.
"Our main focus as we grow this idea is to serve our students, our in district students," Couchman said. "We are not, necessarily, going out and recruiting out-of-district students or anything, but there are some opportunities for us to partner, maybe, with some homeschool students or students that we haven't been in touch with that live in our boundaries."
They don't want to lose sight of the educational needs of kids beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, either.
"We still want to connect with them," Couchman said. "Their social-emotional learning needs are harder, virtually. We have plans to still deliver social-emotional learning lessons. The other thing that I think is a struggle is making them still feel connected and a Buhler student. We still want that connection and so, right now, the goal is to bring them all together for service learning projects, so they are face to face, occasionally."
It is still worth noting, though, that extracurricular activities are not going to be a way for those students to connect.
"The virtual school is its own high school," Couchman said. "If you think about it, there are school districts that have more than one school. Salina South and Salina Central, they're actually two separate high schools. That is what this virtual school will be. It has its own building number by the state Department of Education, so it's actually a separate school."
The district hopes to have an answer next month.