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Getting Closer To Rules For Online Charters


Two virtual charter schools run by for-profit companies are trying to open schools in North Carolina. These would be the first online charters in the state.  A group appointed by the state board of education to help recommend rules for these types of schools is wrapping its work up. They completed their discussions this week.

Virtual charters, where students complete their courses from home computers, operate very differently than brick-and-mortar schools. So there were a lot of questions this group had to consider like the size of a class. 

Darrell Allison with Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina argued classes should be bigger. But Glenn Kleiman, a professor at NC State who studies innovation in education, said an argument could be made for smaller classes. He has a lot of experience with virtual teaching. 

“To do it well actually takes more time per student than when you have the students in front of you,” said Kleiman.   

He said after all it’s not as easy to interact with them as a whole. You have to field lots of emails and calls. 

The group settled on a class size of forty and a limit of 200 students per teacher.  They also decided online charters should open with no more than 1,000 students. 

As far as funding, the group didn’t come up with a number, but stipulated virtual charters shouldn’t receive any local supplement from counties like brick-and-mortar charters do. That would require a change in state law.  

The state board of education will consider the final recommendations at its board meeting next week. Then they’ll go on to the General Assembly.