Elk Grove Unified to open a virtual school
!By Diana Lambert
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
This August a few hundred students in the Elk Grove Unified School District will have their school year delivered to their doorstep in a giant UPS box.
The K-12 students will be part of the district's first-ever virtual school.
The box will contain grade-specific supplies – books, globes, maps – that students will need to finish a year of school from home.
Virtual schooling is gaining traction among California school districts looking for ways to increase revenue and decrease spending.
The cyber school could help the district bring back students who have left to attend charter or private schools, and could draw students from other districts, said Anne Zeman, director of curriculum and professional learning for the district. And with those additional students will come additional state funding.
Elk Grove will pay K12, the company that provides the instruction plans and materials, 85 to 90 percent of the $5,219 the district receives from the state for each student, Zeman said.
She said the district may not make any money on the endeavor, but she's certain it won't cost any more than it brings in. "We can't afford to embark on a program that is a new expense," she said.
Unlike continuation programs or some charter schools that cater to students who struggle with a traditional classroom environment, Zeman said, the Elk Grove virtual school will be for students of all academic levels.
It will be "no piece of cake" academically, she said. The materials provided by K12 for the program have been reviewed by staff to ensure they are on par with the curriculum taught at district schools.
Students in the virtual program will learn most of their lessons on a computer at home. They'll go to a real campus for tests and to meet from time to time with a teacher.