Moon Plans Online Learning Program to Combat Charter School Enrollment
District administrators hope to roll out the program in the fall.
Superintendent Donna Milanovich said the Moon Area School District hopes to attract students who have left to enroll in charter schools by offering its own online learning program.
Milanovich said the district plans to introduce a new cyber learning program for high school students at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. The Moon Area School Board is slated to vote on adoption of the program in May.
She said 99 Moon and Crescent students this year have left the district to study through charter programs, costing the district more than $1 million in tuition reimbursements.
Under Pennsylvania law, school districts must pay tuition for students who exit the public school system to attend charter programs.
"We want this to entice people to come back," Milanovich told the Moon Area School Board Monday. "We want them to be a part of the school district."
Milanovich said the majority of students who leave the district for charter schools are high school students. She said the district lost some $114,000 in tuitition costs this academic year as the result of 11 kindergarten students who are taking charter school classes.
The majority of Moon-area students enrolled at charter schools take courses at the Midland-based Pennsylvania Charter Cyber School, Milanovich said.
"Some students left because of performing arts," Milanovich said of students enrolled at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. "Others because of social issues, bullying and not fitting in. A low number left for religious reasons and some for health reasons."
Students who enroll in the district-run online courses would obtain a Moon Area School District diploma and have the option to take courses at the high school. Students would be requried to use their own computers to take the courses.
The program would be a partnership with Seneca Valley School District, which has an online learning program already underway.
Under an agreement with Seneca Valley, the school district would pay a fee of $25,000 for the first one to 200 students who enroll in the program. Teachers who are needed to instruct a program will receive $500 for the first student enrolled in a course and $181 for each additional students at a cap of $3,020.
Alan Bennett, director of fiscal services, said if implemented the program would be "budget neutral" for the district because it would enable it to retain money typically paid in tuition reimbursements for individual students. The district contacted 80 area students enrolled in charter schools for feedback on the potential program.
Assistant high school principal Ashley Porter, who worked in online instruction while employed in the Beaver Falls School District, said the program would enable to the district to monitor student learning performance and prevent truancy.
"One of the things I know for sure is students who leave and go most of the time they prefer to be in their home district," Porter said.