Kaneland votes against virtual school proposal

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SUGAR GROVE – Kaneland School District 302 board officials Monday voted against a charter school proposal by the Illinois Virtual School at Fox River Valley, citing that several statutory components of the proposal had not been met.

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

Kaneland is one of 18 school districts in five counties that had been asked to vote on an online charter school proposal by Virtual Learning Solutions.

The board voted unanimously to deny the proposal, which Superintendent Jeff Schuler said failed to provide evidence that the organization had a way of evaluating pupil performance and that the proposal is economically sound. He said of the 15 statutory requirements, two requirements were not applicable, and all but one requirement – that the word “charter” be in the name – was met.

He said the board had a chance to ask a K12 representative questions at a March 18 hearing, but few of their questions were answered. He said the board did not have the majority of those answers until about 11 p.m. Thursday, when Virtual Learning Solutions sent out a 1,100-page document that was supposed to address those questions, but Schuler said it didn’t appear to be organized in any sort of fashion.

“I couldn’t tell you with certainty if Kaneland’s questions were answered,” he told the board Monday.

Schuler told the board that the school district’s attorney had helped determine that the proposal fell short on providing sufficient admission criteria and failed to identify the number of students that could be enrolled.

He said while the school is virtual, statute still required the organization to set up at least two potential meeting sites for some of the face-to-face components of the virtual schools, such as field trips and parent-teacher meetings.

The proposal also failed to cite sufficient community involvement and support. One meeting document states, “To date, all community comments received have not been supportive of the charter school proposal.”

“I don’t think our board saw communitywide support for virtual schools,” Schuler said.