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Kaneland to consider joining districts in ‘blended learning’ endeavor

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SUGAR GROVE – Eyeing a future that will incorporate an increasing amount of Internet-based learning opportunities, Kaneland School District 302 officials will consider joining a consortium of districts – including Batavia’s – to help in that effort.

Erika Schlichter, the district’s director of educational services for sixth through 12th grade, spoke to school board members and officials Monday night at the board meeting at Harter Middle School. In the consortium, Kaneland would join the Batavia, Wheaton-Warrenville, Naperville and Indian Prairie school districts.

The plan would call for increasing options for online and “blended learning,” including how the districts could share resources and costs. Before the presentation, Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler pointed out that the plan was different than the online charter school plan presented by K12 Inc.

Schuler said the problem with the charter school project was that “it was brought to us as an all-or-nothing, with no local engagement.”

“Blended learning” calls for a mix of online and classroom learning, and that is something Kaneland already offers to an extent, according to the presentation. In the consortium, the districts would work with the Evergreen Education Group in developing the first phase at a total cost of $40,000 over three months. Kaneland’s total share of that would be $3,000, as officials noted the money paid would be based on student enrollment, and District 302 has the smallest enrollment in the group.

If the plan wins approval from the school boards involved, it could be up and running by August, Schlichter said. Officials were not looking for a vote as of yet. Board members showed support, but they had questions. Board member Tony Valente repeatedly asked for data to support that such a consortium would be effective.

Schuler said there has been data to show that blended learning works. Students who were not meeting standards were showing progress, he said. Schuler also said the district would “have the best deal in that consortium.”

Board member Veronica Bruhl said she would want to know what the cost might be for future phases, in case “there might be some big cost we can’t afford.” Schuler said the cost for such an endeavor without partners might be too high.

“This is the way Kaneland is going to do any of this,” Schuler said.

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