Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2003

What’s in a name:VCS considers dropping charter

March 13, 2003

Next month, the "stepbrother" school of the Basehor-Linwood School District could become a full-fledged family member.

That's when School Board members will decide whether to integrate the district's Virtual Charter School -- an on-line school offering courses via the Internet -- into the regular school district program.

"At best, we've been a stepbrother within the district," Virtual Charter School director Brenda DeGroot said. "But (the VCS) has always been an integral part of this district."

During its meeting Monday, March 10, school officials discussed the possibility of bringing the VCS into the regular school district program.

As it stands now, the program is an island unto itself: VCS student scores aren't calculated in with those of the regular enrollment and the school does not receive school district funding.

Admittedly, should the program be included into the regular school district, little would change for the VCS.

De Groot said the only difference would be removing the word charter from its title.

"Just the name basically," she said. "We'll continue to operate as we have in the past. We'll just bring it into the school district more than it already is."

However, the name change does complement the success the VCS has experienced since its inception five years ago, school officials said.

In 1998, the state department of education granted the VCS one of 15 original charters in the state. Since then, the VCS has been widely recognized as a pioneer in on-line education.

Last year, the VCS became the first school of its kind to receive state accreditation and many Kansas school districts have modeled programs of their own off the VCS.

"We have a lot of credibility in the state and we're going to continue with that," De Groot said.

The name change also highlights the schools staying power: many Kansas virtual charter schools have folded since their inceptions because they were not able to fund themselves.

"We've accomplished what charter schools were meant to do," De Groot said. "We are out in front and do have more to offer than others."

The school has also been innovative, adding such wrinkles as a distance learning program since its beginning. The distance learning program allows students, who are short of a course credit, the chance to make up class work through the VCS.

State education officials recommended the VCS drop the charter title from its moniker.

There isn't a need for the charter title anymore since the school hasn't received federal funding for three years, said Steve Adams, charter school coordinator for the state.

The school board is scheduled to take action on the proposal during its April meeting.

Bond issue moves forward

This week, Kansas state education officials validated the Basehor-Linwood School District application to propose a bond issue to voters in April.

State education officials were asked by area residents to review the application.

Finding no problem with the application, the bond issue will go to public vote April 1.

On Monday, March 10, the the school board approved maintaining an option on land designated for a new Basehor-Linwood Middle School, on County Road 2.

The land, a 79-acre parcel, would be used for a new middle school should the $29.9 million bond issue be approved by voters.

The cost for maintaining the option is $4,000.

School district director of operations Don Swartz said the funds would go toward the land purchase if the bond issue is approved.

If not, that "money will be forfeited to (the property owners)."

Funds from an approved bond issue would pay for the construction of the middle school, and renovations to Linwood, Glenwood Ridge and Basehor elementary schools.

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