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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 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. 

Ted Merklin April 25, 2012 at 06:43 PM
That's what I was curious about, since I haven't seen a breakdown yet. Is it a net $300k increase to the overall budget, or will all day kindergarten cost $300k, vs half day kindergarten costing $240k? That's a big distinction that needs to be made when tossing around numbers like that.
disappointed April 26, 2012 at 01:24 PM
If the Moon Area School District would listen to the parents then maybe so many students wouldn't want to leave. For example, last night at the middle school many parents went there hoping to find out the math program. Instead, they had us go to short little lectures on each subject with little or no time to ask questions. However they gave everyone a question card to fill out. I went to the meeting to get my question about math answered then! They never discussed how they were going to have all the kids "skip" math 1. Actually, they never discussed math 1. I was very disappointed in the "Curriculum Night." Mrs. Heasley also mentioned that the Board hadn't officially approved the curriculum so I don't know how it was ethical that they had an entire presentation on this material.
Jenna Staul April 26, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Hello, Speaking of curriculum night—we will have a story posted tomorrow about the event, just to let you know. Jenna
disappointed April 26, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Alex, I think you need to check your facts and be a little more specific. Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School actually scored higher this year for the first time, than Moon High School. Now the PA Cyber Charter School didn't do as well as either of them. It isn't fair to Lincoln Park to be so generalized in your facts. Lincoln Park is an excellent school and they deserve the recognition!
Teri Shaw April 26, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Lynn is correct. The administration presented to the board during one of their budget meetings that it would cost $300,000 for All-Day K. Some of these costs will be eliminated after the first year because books and supplies will not be needed the next year. It is supported by documentation which was given to each board member.

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