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Saucon Valley, PA Turns to Online Schools to End Money Drain
A Pennsylvania district is fighting back against the loss of students, and their attached funding to charter schools by offering their own online courses.
Saucon Valley School District aims to tackle the perceived problem of money flowing out of the district’s schools to the increasingly popular charter school option by offering online high school classes themselves.
Superintendent Sandra Fellin is proposing a multifaceted program that in addition to creating a cyber high school would allow students to make up credits for courses they’ve failed, attend summer school online and bring in new electives.
The board approved of Fellin’s plan to contract eBridge Academy to provide a virtual high school program of their own which will be funded through students returning to the district.
Saucon has 17 students in cyber schools, six of whom are special education students, at a total cost of $361,366. Saucon must pay $11,561 per regular education student and $21,165 per special needs student to cyber schools.
The eBridge program costs $25 per day per student or $4,500 a school year, which means the district will keep $7,061 per regular education child or $16,665 per special needs student.
The proposed eBridge program will allow students to make up credits online after they’ve failed a course at a district school at a minimal $110 per course payable by the student. Online summer school will also be available at $250 per course.
Fellin has stated a preference for eBridge over alternative options because it requires the students to be actually working online between 8am and 2pm every school day and has automatic checks built in to make sure the student isn’t simply logging in and then going ‘afk’. If these active working checks are failed a teacher is alerted automatically so that the student will need to provide an explanation. An additional advantage of the eBridge solution is that its curriculum is best suited to state standards. The district will continue to administer state standardized testing themselves.
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