Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Springfield Local: Digital school ruled out by financial data

Springfield Local Schools officials decided to drop the idea of establishing a digital academy separate from the district but will pursue starting something similar as part of the district.

Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said that a closer look at the financial aspect of putting together a separate administration for what is essentially a charter school, and the reimbursement formula from the state, made it a losing proposition for Springfield.

Other districts have different situations, but for Springfield it would not be financially viable, she said.

Under state support formulas, the new system would receive less than the school district receives for each enrolled student. If a youngster left the traditional system to enroll in the digital academy, Mrs. Beekley said, it would result in a net financial loss.

In addition to that loss, the new school would have required a superintendent and a treasurer and would have other "significant administrative costs,'' she said.

Although the two school systems would have been separate organizations, the traditional board would have sponsored the academy and it didn't seem feasible if the result would have been a financial loss to Springfield Local Schools.

Nevertheless, the superintendent said, the idea of a digital academy has merit, "and we definitely have students who could benefit from it.''

The theory of a digital academy is to provide instruction through computers and have students who may attend on-line with a flexible schedule and outside of traditional schools.

She said there are school-age children who, for different reasons, have problems with learning in a traditional setting and may be better served by an on-line alternative.

The district, she said, will examine ways to offer the alternative, but as part of the local school district.

Meanwhile, the Sylvania school district will continue to pursue establishing a separate academy, according to Dallas Jackson, assistant superintendent.

Mr. Jackson, who is the superintendent of the digital academy, agreed that there are different financial situations for different school districts because of state funding, but he said Sylvania probably would see a net gain if the two school systems were seen as one.

Mr. Jackson said there has been no word yet on the school's application for a start-up grant of $50,000 from the state.

Whether it is awarded or not, Mr. Jackson said, he is preparing to apply for an available $150,000 grant from the federal government to help with start-up costs.

An established board of education for the digital academy is being sponsored by Sylvania schools, he said, and although there has been no word from the state, he is going forward with plans to begin academy classes.

The system is being helped by Tri-Rivers Educational Association Digital Academy, in Marion, Ohio.

The consortium of school districts provides curriculum, teachers, computers, and training for those who will become instructors in digital academies.

Springfield schools had worked with the consortium prior to deciding against establishing a separate school.

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