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Article updated: 4/8/2013 10:14 PM

Geneva says 'no' to online charter school

By Susan Sarkauskas

The Geneva school district Monday joined the list of area school districts opposing the formation of an online charter school.

The board voted unanimously to deny the application of Illinois Virtual Charter School @ Fox Valley.

Basically, the board didn't think IVCS had its ducks in a row.

The lack of representatives to attend public hearings in the last month at all 18 districts bothered board member Mary Stith. "That is a big red flag for me. You really did a disservice to all those boards," said Stith, who attended some hearings conducted by other boards because representatives missed Geneva's public hearing in March. "I can't support it when I don't think it was thought through." She also pointed out that at those hearings, the representatives couldn't provide answers to many officials' questions.

" ... What is the hurry that you can't vet it out with all these school districts?" Stith said.

She said the applicants should have talked to districts and worked with them before it submitting its application. State law requires that once a district receives an application for a charter school, it has to have a public hearing within 45 days, and then vote within 30 days of the hearing.

Board member Tim Moran questioned how the school expects to educate all the kinds of students it said could. Students would have individualized learning plans, and proponents said it would be would be good for all kinds of students, including the gifted, those with disabilities, those with autism, those with learning disorders, those with behavioral problems, those whose are in military families that transfer frequently and those who are homebound.

Board member Bill Wilson wondered why they didn't start with fewer districts and grow from there.

School officials said they are required by state law to take all students who apply. And Randall Greenway of K12 Inc., the company that would be hired to run the school, said 18 districts are needed to make it economically viable. Greenway is vice president of school development for K12, a for-profit company.

Board members pointed out they are not against online learning or virtual schools.

"I am not opposed to the concept of online learning. Schools will have to resolve themselves to this, what with building and equipment cost," Moran said.

The St. Charles and Kaneland school boards voted against the proposal Monday. The Batavia school board will consider it Tuesday.

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