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Published: Thursday, 3/4/2004

Sylvania: Funds sought for digital school

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Sylvania Board of Education has agreed to apply for state and federal funding to set up a digital on-line academy for youngsters in the district.

Superintendent Brad Rieger said the administration plans to wait until the first of next year to implement the school, but that approval to begin the process is important because of funding deadlines.

The state will make available $50,000; and $150,000 in federal money is also available for planning for the school. If a school isn t established, the unused funds must be returned.

Plans also call for a board to be appointed to oversee the digital school, and for that group to report monthly to the district board of education, said Dallas Jackson, assistant superintendent.

Although the digital academy will be separate from Sylvania schools, it will be under its sponsorship. The Sylvania board will retain control in the same way any group or entrepreneur would who started a charter school.

The digital academy will be a school for children in grades kindergarten through high school seniors who will receive instruction via computer.

Mr. Jackson said that in the first year, much of the curriculum will be based on a statewide model, but will be brought more in line with the Sylvania schools in the second year and should be the same as Sylvania schools in the third year.

The system has discussed the option with the Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association, of Marion, Ohio, which has established digital academies for school systems in Ohio, including Perrysburg. It is also working with Maumee and Springfield Local schools.

For each child enrolled, Sylvania schools will receive $5,000 from the state and will pay TRECA about $3,500 per student.

As the curriculum and the operation becomes more directed locally, the amount paid to TRECA will be reduced through the end of the likely three-year contract.

Mr. Jackson said that in Sylvania, as in any district, there are children who have dropped out of school or are in danger of dropping out.

For one reason or another, a traditional school hasn t been successful in holding and educating them. He said a digital academy might be one way to reach them.

The resource might also be valuable to parents who home-school their children, particularly as the children grow and their course of study becomes more complex.



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