Batavia School Board votes to drop out of online consortium

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 8:23 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Voicing concerns about the $96,450 price tag, Batavia School Board members Tuesday voted 4-3 to drop out of a consortium designed to provide online learning opportunities for students.

Batavia School District 101 is the second school district to drop out of the consortium. Earlier this month, Kaneland School District 302 voted against remaining in the consortium because of the high cost of participation to move on to the second phase of the consortium.

Voting “yes” were Batavia School Board members Melanie Impastato, Jason Stoops and Sue Locke. Voting “no” were Batavia School Board President Cathy Dremel, Vice President Gregg Hodge and board members Jon Gaspar and Tina Bleakley.

Locke took several minutes before casting her vote. While she also was concerned about the cost, Locke said it was an important initiative.

“I think it is important that we do some kind of online blended learning,” she said.

Gaspar also agreed with the importance of the initiative.

“I think it is a great starting point,” he said.

After voting to drop out of the consortium, Batavia School Board members directed staff to explore other options.

“I do believe there are other options out there in terms of partnering with different districts,” said Brad Newkirk, the district’s chief academic officer.

Batavia school board members had previously 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 an online/blended learning consortium. Batavia was the first district to sign the agreement.

The topic of online learning came up last 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.

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Jan Schlictmann at a Geneva law firm.

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