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Published: Thursday, 1/29/2004

Rossford, Sylvania test on-line schools

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rossford and Sylvania schools are exploring establishing a digital “school within a school, similar to the on-line academy in Perrysburg schools and those being pursued by Maumee and Springfield school districts.

School officials recently met with an officer of the Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association, which is working with other area districts on the plan to establish a on-line “school within a school.

Mike Carder, executive director of TRECA, told representatives from Rossford, Sylvania, Maumee, and Springfield schools that establishing a separate system allows the districts to offer off-campus instruction and to receive state aid for students who might opt out of traditional school settings.

“If you don t do something to attract and keep children they ll go to community (charter) schools.

“You can take them back into your district by establishing digital academies, Mr. Carder said.

The school boards of Springfield and Maumee recently have voted to move ahead with incorporations and other actions necessary to establish the separate schools.

In Maumee, preliminary plans call for a digital academy to open March 1, 2005. The first-year budget, according to the community school preliminary agreement, is estimated at $205,000 and is based on a startup enrollment of 25 students.

Mr. Carder said the online school is a different legal entity from the established school district, must keep its funds separate and must have its own treasurer, according to the law.

Nevertheless, the school board that establishes it, “owns it, manages it and runs it, he said. He added that the treasurer of the school district can also be designated to act as the digital school s treasurer.

Funds to establish the schools are available from federal and state governments. They receive about $4,800 from the state for each student.

“If it offers something beneficial to children and it can be done without money from our general fund, it s difficult to argue against the theory, said Brad Rieger, superintendent of Sylvania schools.

Mr. Carder said the amount per student attending classes via computer from home is magnified because the student doesn t require the same support, such as transportation and food service, as a traditional student.

He also noted that one English teacher might be able to handle classes that would normally require several teachers.

TRECA is headquartered in Marion, Ohio, and is an association of 48 Ohio school districts. It began to work with other districts establishing digital schools in September, 2001.



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