Board of Education member Bill Wellman has become something of a one-man band, banging the drum over what he believes is a key educational opportunity yet to be fully embraced in New Milford.

Mr. Wellman again attempted Dec. 13 to convince his fellow board members that online learning is the technological wave of the future.

He said while there are limited opportunities now to take such courses for students enrolled in adult education or who cannot be in a classroom setting, he believes this needs to be implemented for all high school graduates.

"There is a world of educational opportunity out there for our students," Mr. Wellman opined.

He pointed to the large variety of courses, accessible through computers, to promote lifelong learning.

"We really do have a tremendous potential educational resource here," Mr. Wellam continued, "that is part of the educational framework of the 21st century. We do kids a disservice if we don't teach them to use it."

His fellow board members were not inclined, however, to require Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote to come up with a formal plan for implementation of such a program.

Mr. Wellman was the lone affirmative vote on his motion to have Dr. Paddyfote and her staff come up with a proposal by May to integrate online courses into the high school curriculum, preferably with all students taking one such course before they graduate.

Several board members agree technology is an essential ingredient in today's courses. They note a technology committee is working to integrate the latest technology at all levels.

The key, they said, is to assure the proper foundation is offered before taking that next step.

School board member David Lawson said Mr. Wellman's proposal was "putting the cart before the horse."

Before the district requires online learning, Mr. Lawson said all students must have the background so they could be successful with such a course.

He said this should not be done in a "haphazard" fashion.

Fellow school board member Tom McSherry said he sees the value of online courses to give high school students more choices for electives, especially advanced-placement opportunities.

Yet again, he said he wants to carefully study how this would be implemented and suggests it could be driven through the board's Committee on Learning and the district's five-year technology plan.

"We need some skills before we can use the tools available online," Mr. Lawson said.