The Clarkston School District has received approval from the state of Washington to open a new K-12 school to help meet the needs of families who choose to home-school their children.

Lessons through Clarkston Home Alliance, the district’s new public school, will be parent-instructed and parent-driven, but those who enroll in the program will be able to access additional support from the district.

“We want this experience to provide families a partnership with the Clarkston School District where they get flexibility and choice, while we provide curriculum, support, enrichment activities and a state approved high school diploma,” said Michelle Nicholas, the instructor of the program, in a news release.

Nicholas, a former teacher at Heights Elementary School, will work with as many as 40 students and their families.

Parents will be able to use an online curriculum provided through the district, or they can choose to use another curriculum as long as it meets state standards.

Troy Whittle, the district’s assistant superintendent and executive director of teaching and learning, said students in the program will also be able to participate in sports, extracurricular activities and classes offered through the district’s brick-and-mortar schools.

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The pilot program launched with limited enrichment activities, but Whittle hopes to expand those offerings to include things like field trips.

“Our goal is to really have the parents guide us in the development of this program and make it what they want it to be,” Whittle said.

If the pilot is successful, the district plans to pursue a multi-district approach, which would open the program to more students in the region.

The new public school was launched in part because of the coronavirus pandemic. The district wanted to provide an option with the flexibility of home schooling, but with a built-in support system from an experienced educator.

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