Stories of the Year: Virtual schools on hold

State regulators want regulations, guidelines

Published: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 12:27 a.m. CDT
(Photo Illustration by H. Rick Bamman -
Virtual Learning companies are being considered in many Illinois school districts. Those districts, statewide government watchdogs and education associations fear the proposed online charter schools will divert precious tax dollars from public schools to a for-profit, out-of-state company with a shaky track record of managing similar schools in more than 20 states.

The story on virtual online charter schools could be found in the dictionary.

The word “virtual” means “very close to being something without actually being it.” In other words, “not really.”

This year, Virtual Learning Solutions applied to open an online-only charter school in the Fox Valley that would have spanned 18 districts. All 18 rejected the application – among them were Geneva School District 304, Batavia School District 101, St. Charles School District 303 and Kaneland School District 302.

School officials were concerned because charter schools receive state and federal money and siphon local tax dollars to support their education program.

They also were concerned that the applicant was not providing answers to questions and concerns.

State lawmakers then put a hold on the creation of virtual schools until they could craft real regulations and guidelines to govern them.

– Brenda Schory

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Jan Schlictmann at a Geneva law firm.

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