No more pencils, no more books.

The mantra traditionally was reserved for students celebrating a three-month break from the classroom, but soon, even the summer school kids could be joining in the chant.

Thanks to a new online summer school program proposed at a recent Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education meeting, keyboards and monitors might replace pencils and books.

The program, known as PLATO, would be implemented in the summer of 2008 and would be available to current or rising high school students.

Stephanie Knott, spokeswoman for the school district, said the push toward online courses is due to a new state law and to the district’s tight budget.

“There’s some legislation which has said that students who are in need of remediation cannot be charged for that help,” Knott said.

“The most cost-effective way of being able to deliver this help is via computer.”

Since summer 2007, high school students in the district have had access to the N.C. Virtual Public School, a different online program offered across North Carolina and run solely by the state.

While both programs allow students to receive credit for online courses, Knott said there are fundamental differences between the two.

The N.C. Virtual Public School offers courses structured and paced by a teacher online. Knott said the teachers make assignments for their students to complete by specific deadlines.

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