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West Aurora questions plan for online charter school

Updated: March 23, 2013 6:14AM

An online charter school based in St. Charles has approached several area school district’s about the program it plans to launch in the fall.

The West Aurora School Board raised questions this week about the application it received from Virtual Learning Solutions in St. Charles. Virtual Learning Solutions sent applications to 18 local districts, including West Aurora, East Aurora, Oswego, Batavia, and Plainfield, officials said.

The charter school would provide online learning options for students who could not or did not want to attend classes within the building.

West Aurora will have the opportunity to address representatives from the charter school at a public hearing that is required to be held before March 31.

For some School Board members, there were still too many questions to support the program. Some details on the curriculum would not be available until the board could speak with a representative of the program.

“We’re being asked to support this charter without being fully aware of what they provide,” board member Mark Bradford said.

Caroline Roselli is the attorney representing West Aurora in the application process. She told the board this week that joining the charter school would require a leap of faith.

“I don’t know that we can afford a leap of faith at this point,” board member Allyson Herget said.

Superintendent James Rydland said that there is nothing preventing West Aurora from building its own e-learning program in the future, and inviting other districts to participate.

That would give the district more control over what the curriculum would look like.

“We’re not anti-choice,” board member Angie Smith said. “Our concern is that we don’t have any control over what that choice would look like.”

There could also be financial implications to joining the program. State funding aid would follow the students who chose to participate in the charter school. If a student returned to West after deciding the program wasn’t for them, the district would not receive that money again, Smith said.

The district is required to make a decision on whether to approve the charter school application within 30 days after the public hearing.

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