State Board of Education Approaches Online Charter School Applications With Caution

State Board of Education Approaches Online Charter School Applications With Caution

2:56pm Jan 20, 2015

North Carolina families could soon have another education option. The state board is discussing applications for two virtual charter schools this month.

The two schools seeking approval are affiliated with the online education companies K12 Inc. and Connections Academy. A state advisory committee recently recommended the school’s proposals.  They would be part of a four-year pilot program outlined by the legislature that authorizes the State Board of Education to approve two statewide virtual charter schools by the end of 2015. 

Online learning is not new. The state has the second largest public virtual school in the country, with approximately 50,000 students every year who take courses in the program.

North Carolina Public schools are using it now to supplement middle and high school curricula. Proponents say it offers classes that otherwise may not be available and brings more flexibility to students who need it.

The difference with the virtual charter school is that it's offered to all grades, and June Atkinson, the state superintendent of public schools, says that is something that has some board members concerned.

“We know that in kindergarten, first and second grade it is extremely important to have adults in the lives of students, so with the virtual charter school, it means there is a greater burden on the parents or the people who will be directing the learning given the support from an online source,” says Atkinson. “This is a place that we have never been before and the board wants to move very cautiously.”

The State Board of Education will vote on the online charter school applications in February. If approved, the schools will begin teaching students at the beginning of August.

Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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