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NC School Board Set To Approve Policies Guiding Online Charters

North Carolina is getting ready for a new breed of charter school.  They’re virtual schools, where students do all or most of their work online.  The state board of education Thursday is set to approve new policies to guide these schools.  They include paying the schools less per student than a regular charter and capping the student to teacher ratio.

North Carolina has no online charter schools, but it’s had a lot of interest in opening one.  That’s got the state board of education wondering how to deal with schools that operate so differently from traditional schools. 

Virtual charters often don’t have a schoolhouse.  There are teachers, but usually class sizes are much larger than at a regular brick-and-mortar school. 

For that reason, state board of education chairman Bill Harrison believes online charters should receive less money than traditional charter schools. 

The proposal would give virtual charters about $3,600 per student.  That’s the same amount the state charges districts for a full load of virtual classes.  It’s also about $1,500 short of what most charters in the state receive. 

The General Assembly would have to approve any funding changes. 

The proposals would also limit class size to 50 students per teacher and allow the board to close a virtual school if it averages a turnover rate of more than 15-percent.