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Oswego Schools Considering Virtual Education Expansion

If the district applies for a waiver and it's approved by the state, high school students would be able to take up to 40 percent of their coursework online.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Oswego School District 308 will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, July 14, at Oswego East High School, 1525 Harvey Rd., to get public input on a proposal to apply for a waiver from the state that would allow the district to offer additional "virtual education" for high school students.

The waiver would allow District 308 to apply for an exception to a state requirement that students receive five clock hours of instruction per day, "in order to provide a blended platform in which students could take up to 40 percent of their coursework through virtual education program."

Director of Communications and PR Brian Graves said the waiver application would allow the district to expand its selection of online coursework for high school students in both core and elective classes, and at both advanced and support levels.

The district already offers a limited selection of online courses. Virtual courses offered for the 2014-15 school year are health, consumer education, environmental science and contemporary American literature, according to the district.

The soonest the waiver would be in place would be the 2015-16 school year, according to Graves, and students would not immediately be able to take 40 percent of their courses online. 

"Rather, students could work up to that amount under procedures established by the administration and overseen by staff," Graves said.

If the school board authorizes the district to apply for the waiver, the district will submit its application in time for an Aug. 15 deadline, according to Graves.

From there, if the Illinois State Board of Education gives the go-ahead, the application will be submitted to the Illinois General Assembly for consideration by Oct. 1. The General Assembly would then have 60 calendar days after it reconvenes to disapprove any of the waiver requests in the report, Graves said.

If the General Assembly doesn't take action to disapprove any of the waiver requests, the waivers will be granted.

The earliest District 308's request could be approved is Dec. 1, according to Graves.

If it goes through, district high school students would be able to take approved courses online either at home or at designated district facilities.
Linda Porter July 14, 2014 at 06:07 PM
Interesting in this day and time when so much of society is concerned with the isolation of our teenagers. Almost one half of the course work being done on-line? That seems like a lot to me. What is the cost? Can't this be completed in conjunction with the local junior college? Some districts offer dual credit for high school and college work, can we? If the class sizes drop, does the state funding decline? What is the real agenda here? At a time when we have continual funding issues, we need to be sure that the decisions are made with the best being done with the students in mind.
Paige Koos July 14, 2014 at 11:17 PM
If you read the article's details, it says that students could take "up to 40%" of their coursework online. It is not a mandate, it gives students & parents a choice that is not currently available. Funding would not change since it is calculated based on enrollment. And, dual credit would still be available as it always has been through WCC, etc. The "real agenda" is that kids & parents across the nation are being given choices regarding how, when, & where the students can learn. 308 needs to give choices as well. Presently, Accelerated students have to go to classes with kids that could be 3+ years older than them. With online learning parents & students may get to choose an online class over having their 13 year old in class with 17 year olds. Or, perhaps they wouldn't-it would be a choice. This is just one example-there are dozens of other examples where online learning (for a class or a few classes) for twice-exceptional learners, kids with special needs, etc. may be the right choice. But, now, we 308 parents have no choice. Education should be tailor made to fit the learner. The learner shouldn't be locked into courses that may or may not fit their needs. Choices are common place in other districts & states. Unfortunately, Illinois & Oswego in particular have not given parents access such choices. Now, there is a chance to expand the options.
ayar July 15, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Are you a type 75 [management], Paige ? It sounds like it. The "real agenda" in part is to cut costs, I'm sure. $cha-ching$. @Linda, thank you for bringing up the very point I was bringing up next. Isolation. This one is for you, Dr. Koos http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=psychhp
Marie G July 16, 2014 at 09:21 AM
As a parent in 308 who will have a daughter needing a more flexible school schedule in high school due to competitive sports, I welcome this addition. Colleges and universitis already offer courses online, so it would make sense that the high schools are structuring their educational offerings to mimic that of what collegs might offfer. I think allowing high school students to take classes online teaches them accountability and time management - something that is sorely lacking when they graduate and move on into the real world. I welcome this change, and hope it moves forward and continues into the future so that my daughter and others out there who need a more flexible education system are able to still get the classes and credits they need.
Jared Ploger July 17, 2014 at 09:51 AM
@Linda Porter-I agree that this would be very beneficial for students obtaining college credits too. I believe it is a goal but we need to push for that. What I hope this doesn't turn into is merely a way to alleviate crowding high schools. Proper oversight is key to the success of this program. Our Board may have issues getting the waiver, however, if we continue to limit parental involvement and move without concrete plans. If we do not receive that waiver, it will be because of those two issues. Guess we will be receiving an informal audit from the state.

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