FARMINGTON — Farmington Municipal Schools board of education on Thursday tabled a request from the New Mexico Virtual Academy to introduce two new grades and increase the school's enrollment cap to handle an influx of new students.

The virtual academy, which is based in Farmington and serves students statewide, currently offers sixth to twelfth grades and has an enrollment cap of 500 students.

The board of education voted to table action on a request from the online charter school to add fourth and fifth grades and increase the enrollment cap by 80 to 150 students.

New Mexico Virtual Academy located at 845 North Sullivan Avenue in Farmington.
New Mexico Virtual Academy located at 845 North Sullivan Avenue in Farmington. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

The additional elementary school students would come from siblings of students already enrolled in the online charter school, said Lydia Todd, regional deputy vice president of K12 Inc., which runs the New Mexico Virtual Academy.

Todd said the school has lost about 10 families who have switched to another online charter school, the New Mexico Connections Academy, which opened earlier this month and offers fourth and fifth grades.

"Because there is another online school that is offering fourth and fifth (grades), they are leaving because they want to have all of their students in one school," Todd said.

New Mexico Connections Academy, which is based out of Albuquerque, also has an enrollment cap of 500 students. The school currently has 473 students enrolled and 27 open slots, spokesman Sue Kern-Fleischer wrote in an email.

Because the New Mexico Virtual Academy is chartered through Farmington Municipal Schools, the board of education must approve changes in school operations.

Mike Isaacson, the board of education's vice president, said he was concerned about the logistics of the proposed expansion and the Sept. 18 start date for new students.

"I don't think they are ready," Isaacson said. "Plus, it's the middle of the school year. You don't want to change in the middle of school."

Isaacson said implementing the new grade levels is a concern and so would be adjusting the budget to accommodate the additional students.

While presenting to the board, Todd did not have a definite number for the proposed increased enrollment. She mentioned both 80 and 150 additional students at different times during the meeting.

"My heart is with the students of our school and my intent was to serve those students," Todd said after the meeting. "But I respect the board's decision, and I'm happy we have such a collaborative board with Farmington."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.