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Batavia School District 101 joining online consortium

BATAVIA – Batavia School District 101 is joining with other districts in exploring how to expand online learning opportunities for students.

Batavia school board members Tuesday voted to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Kaneland School District 302, Indian Prairie School District 204, Naperville Community Unit School District 203 and Wheaton-Warrenville Unit School District 200 as part of a online/blended learning consortium. Batavia was the first district to sign the agreement.

The topic of online learning came up this spring after Batavia and other school districts in the area rejected a proposal by Virtual Learning Solutions to start an online charter school. Batavia School District 101 had raised several concerns, including that the proposal did not contain goals or pupil performance standards to be achieved by the charter school and that the proposal failed to demonstrate that the terms were economically sound for the charter school and the district.

“The member districts began talking and looking at what our options were,” Brad Newkirk, the district’s chief academic officer, told school board members.

Blended learning involves a mix of online and classroom learning. The consortium would work on developing systems for implementing blended and online learning solutions in the school districts.

The districts would work with the Evergreen Education Group on the project’s first phase, which includes developing a strategic plan and identifying key issues surrounding the formation of the consortium and working across district boundaries. More school districts could potentially join the consortium later on, District 101 Superintendent Lisa Hichens said.

Batavia School District 101 would pay for a share of the Evergreen consulting fees based on student enrollment. Batavia’s share is approximately $3,600.

As proposed, the project’s first phase would be completed by January.

“Phase 2 would be a longer process toward implementation,” Newkirk said.

The district continues to integrate more technology in classrooms. Board members on Tuesday also voted to approve the purchase of 389 Chromebooks and related equipment at a cost of $126,600.

A pilot program at Rotolo Middle School using Chromebooks is expanding from 100 sixth-grade students to the full sixth grade, nearly 500 students.

“We’re looking at some innovative ways we can integrate technology,” Anton Inglese, the district’s chief information officer, told school board members.

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