First day of school

The Gazette

Harrison School District 2 received approval Thursday to open a multidistrict online school in August. Students at Monterey Elementary School are pictured, above, on the first day of school last August.

The Colorado State Board of Education on Thursday approved Harrison School District 2’s request to open a multi-district online school in August.

Under the authorization of D-2, Aspire Online Academy will be available for students across the state.

That format “best meets the needs of our community,” according to the application.

Of the 11,177 students enrolled in D-2 this school year, 18% choice in from other districts to attend schools in Harrison, officials said.

“To provide equity to all our families, we need to provide an online school option in which all our current families would be eligible to enroll, if they so choose,” the application states.

Officials anticipate enrolling at least 1,200 kindergarten through eighth grade students in the new online school, said D-2 spokeswoman Christine O’Brien.

The district does not plan to offer online instruction for traditional elementary and middle school students in the fall semester, she said.

Some online learning still will be available for high school students next academic year, O’Brien added.

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Courses for Aspire were developed based on the e-learning that Harrison students did this school year during the pandemic, she said, and include experiential learning.

Students will be able to work independently and also participate in teacher-led learning, with both virtual and in-person instruction. Curriculum will be state standards-based content as well as exploratory learning with interactive opportunities.

Virtual information sessions about Aspire Online Academy will be held at noon Tuesday and 6 p.m. Thursday. Go to

Colorado Springs School District 11 also has applied to the state for authorization of a multi-district online school, Spark Online Academy, to start in the fall.

Other school districts in El Paso County that operate state-approved, multi-district online schools include Hanover D-28, School District 49, Peyton 23-JT and Academy D-20.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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