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District 101 board wants answers about virtual school

BATAVIA – Batavia School District 101 board members and district staff Tuesday voiced frustration about the lack of answers coming from representatives who want to provide an online, virtual charter school serving grades K-12.

Virtual Learning Solutions, a nonprofit group, is seeking to create the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox River Valley, which would open this fall. The company wants to contract with K12 Inc., a for-profit company, to provide the online instruction.

As proposed, Illinois Virtual Charter School would serve 18 Fox Valley school districts, including District 101.

Eric Kohn, board treasurer for the proposed school, and Tamara Carpenter, vice president of school development for K12, gave a presentation before the board Tuesday. Batavia school officials 10 days ago had sent representatives for both organizations a list of questions they had planned to ask at the meeting.

Kohn and Carpenter could not answer many of the questions school officials asked. For example, Kohn could not answer a question about the funding sources for starting the charter school.

“I recently joined the board,” Kohn said. “I can’t answer the question.”

Anton Inglese, the district’s chief information officer, asked what was K12’s retention rate.

“I don’t have that figure on the tip of my tongue,” Carpenter said.

She also couldn’t answer a question about how much of the $8 million budget proposal would be paid to K12.

The lack of answers frustrated District 101 board President Ron Link.

“We’re being asked to make a decision on something we haven’t got any data on,” he said.

Carpenter said the school board and district would be provided the answers.

“The questions that you are asking I cannot personally answer this evening,” she said. “We will get back to you in a timely fashion.”

Board member Jack Hinterlong asked Kohn where he lived.

“Chicago,” he replied. He did not know how many of the board members lived in the 18 school districts the proposed school would serve.

Board members must vote on the proposal within 30 days after the hearing. Once the board has voted, it must submit a report to the Illinois State Board of Education.

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