Mike Klein Online

Georgia’s Largest Virtual School Could Get Approval To Expand

Mike Klein

Georgia Cyber Academy is already the state’s largest virtual charter school.  Now it appears poised to start an expansion that would bring online learning to thousands of new students.

The Georgia Charter Schools Commission has published a staff recommendation that would allow the Academy to eventually enroll up to 10,000 new students and expand curriculum through all four years of high school.  “We’re definitely excited,” said Matt Arkin, head of school at Georgia Cyber.  The GCSC board vote is expected during its Thursday meeting in Atlanta.

Georgia Cyber Academy currently has 6,500 students enrolled in K-9 online classes.  The school has steadily grown since it opened in fall 2007 with 2,500 elementary and middle grade pupils.  Freshman high school classes were offered starting last fall.  Demand is strong.  Arkin said the Academy has had up to 1,000 students on waiting lists this school year.

The application that will be considered Thursday would allow Georgia Cyber to become a K-12 virtual school.  Sophomore high school classes would be offered next fall.  Junior and senior courses would be added in two subsequent years.  Enrollment would be approved up to 16,500.  That would equal about 1% of the state’s total public school student population.

Georgia Cyber has operated as the virtual school associated with its brick-and-mortar sister, the Odyssey School, run by K-12, Inc., which is a for-profit education company.  GCA and Odyssey would become separate entities with independent boards of directors.  The schools would not share instructors, facilities, funding or other resources.

Arkin said Georgia Cyber’s instructional staff would expand from 150 teachers this year to 220 or more next fall.  Charter schools funding formula changes that begin next fall will enable Cyber to offer new foreign language, music, art and other high school electives.

With expansion also come other new opportunities.  Arkin said Georgia Cyber will move toward development of blended learning options that change how teachers and students interact.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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February 14, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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