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updated: 4/10/2013 2:37 PM

House moves plan to block online charter schools

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  • Sandra Pihos

    Sandra Pihos

  • Linda Chapa LaVia

    Linda Chapa LaVia

  • Keith Farnham

    Keith Farnham


SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois House has started moving to put a three-year moratorium on Internet charter schools just days after a handful of suburban districts rejected the online proposals.

On Monday, the Elgin Area School District U-46, Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 and Geneva Community Unit District 304 school boards rejected a pitch from a company wanting to start an online charter school in the Fox Valley.

Today, state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, convinced an Illinois House committee to stop the creation of any new online charter schools in Illinois until April 2016 so that lawmakers can learn more about how they would work.

Chapa LaVia argues the state doesn't have the proper rules and policies in place to handle the relatively new idea of online schools.

"We need to put the brakes on it to make sure it's fluid," she said.

A House committee voted 11-3 to move the moratorium to the full House floor for further debate, but the tepid support of some lawmakers could mean the future success of the plan isn't guaranteed.

State Rep. Keith Farnham, an Elgin Democrat, said he thinks online tools shouldn't be ignored as ways to improve schools.

"There's places where this could be used, probably, very well," Farnham said.

State Rep. Sandra Pihos, a Glen Ellyn Republican, tried to shield Chapa LaVia from criticism that her proposal would put online charter schools on ice at a time when they could be valuable.

"I don't think she's trying to put up a barrier," Pihos said. "This has come very quickly."

Unanswered questions about how the online schools would work was at least partly behind Districts 46 and 300 unanimously rejecting proposals Monday.

School board members had asked for more information and were given a 1,080-page response weeks late and days before the vote.

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