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D-427 rejects online charter school proposal

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE - Sycamore School District 427 board members unanimously rejected a proposal to allow an online charter school to operate within its boundaries.

The 7-0 vote Tuesday came after board members questioned the supervision students would have and charter school leaders' answers to local leaders' questions.

“To approve [the proposal] would have been an insult to the community,” board member Diane Tyrrell said.

The nonprofit Virtual Learning Solutions, which formed in February, is petitioning to open the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley in 18 districts throughout the region. The day-to-day administrative and curriculum responsibilities will be handled by K12 Inc., a Virginia-based for-profit company.

Similar proposals have been rejected by District 300 in Carpentersville, Geneva School District 304, Kaneland School District 427 and St. Charles School District 303. DeKalb School District 428 board members will consider it Tuesday.

The Illinois Virtual Charter School can appeal the local denials to the Illinois Charter Board Commission, which can send the proposal back to the school district, said D-427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman.

District 427 would have lost money if the proposal was granted, but it was unclear how much, said Caroline Roselli, attorney for District 427. An estimate was that the school district would lose between 75 and 125 percent of funding per student.

K12 Inc. also wouldn't have been limited by a maximum or minimum amount of students they would have had, Roselli said, so it wouldn't have been clear how many students they would have taught.

That wasn't the only thing left unclear to District 427 school board members. A representative for K12 Inc. answered questions for the school board and residents at a public hearing March 20, but the representative did not answer all of the questions, board members said.

“Even the answers to some of the questions were not good answers, by any stretch of the imagination,” Tyrrell said.

K12 Inc. gave the board a 1,080 paged document to respond to the board's questions, but it was given to them days before they had to vote on the issue.

While District 427 students won't have the virtual charter for now, they still can take advantage of the existing online courses that the district offers. The district offers credit recovery courses for students who can't fit a class into their schedule. They also offer makeup work and virtual high school courses online.

• Shaw Media Projects Editor Kate Schott contributed to this report.

Here's a summary of the districts considering proposals from Virtual Learning Solutions:

Denied proposals Carpentersville CUSD 300 Geneva CUSD 304 Kaneland CUSD 427 St. Charles CUSD 303 Aurora West USD 129 Indian Prairie CUSD 204 Oswego CUSD 308 SD U-46 Yorkville CUSD 115

Pending proposals DeKalb CUSD 428 Batavia USD 101 Aurora East USD 131 Central CUSD 301 Indian Prairie CUSD 204 Naperville CUSD 203 CUSD 200 Plainfield SD 202 Valley View CUSD 365U

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