School district seeks to bring students back from charter schools

Posted by Megan Sanderson on Saturday, Jul. 7 at 1:13 am.

For many students — both in college and high school — online classes have become very popular. With the increased popularity, Springfield Public Schools decided to offer online classes for elementary students.

The Springfield school district isn’t the first to introduce this. Oregon Connections Academy, based out of Scio, Ore., is a K-12 charter school that is based entirely online.

Regardless of their online-only approach, the academy is considered a public school. Any child can enroll from anywhere around the state of Oregon. Being a public school, the program is tuition-free. The material that is needed is all provided by the program.

Like a public school, extracurricular activities and sports are offered for the students enrolled in the program, an academy spokesperson said.

All students must have an adult who can monitor the work that is being done and submitted. The online schedule allows for flexibility with other schedules that can cause conflict with in-person classes, the spokesperson said. Oregon Connections Academy also allows students to email or talk with a live teacher everyday for any kind of questions that the student might have.

In an attempt to bring back students who have switched to online charter schools or other online school options, the Springfield school district has decided to offer the same type of program next fall. They plan to offer the same type of course with the same benefits.

“Offering full, online classes is unusual for school districts,” an academy spokesperson said.

As of right now, Springfield Public Schools is the only Oregon school district doing so. However, there are currently eight virtual charter schools in the state.

It is estimated that the school district has lost about 110 students to online schools. In terms of finances for the school district, that is a loss of $660,000. Schools receive approximately $6,000 from Oregon for each child that is enrolled.

“We want to invite those students back,” Jane Falls said, who is the district online coordinator.

The funding of the program would only cost around $3,000, saving a lot of money for the school district. These online classes are said to not eliminate any teaching jobs. All students would be able to reach a teacher to communicate with and ask any questions that might be had. The program would allow for students to split their time in school and at home or allow for the student to do all of the schooling online.

“These are very rigorous courses aligned with State (of Oregon) standards,” Falls said.

The same classes that would be offered at school would be offered online, with the same amount of education being put into the class. The online classes would not be any easier or less work but rather could be harder because of a lack of motivation.

“It takes a set of motivational skills,” Falls said.