Maine House gives nod to bill exploring virtual school

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The House of Representatives on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill reviewing the creation of a state-run virtual school.

The proposal, L.D. 1736, is sponsored by Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, and co-sponsored by several Democrats on the Education Committee. It directs the Department of Education to form a stakeholder group to determine the costs and structure of a state-run academy that would afford students and school districts the benefits of online course learning. It also includes a provision that halts the authorization of virtual charter schools run by private companies for up to a year. The latter measure has generated the most opposition from supporters of virtual charter schools and Gov. Paul LePage, a longtime advocate of charter schools and virtual charter schools.

Supporters of L.D. 1736 say a state-run school would provide students and districts with the same benefits of online learning while avoiding some of the risks inherent in turning over the administration of the schools to private companies. The proposal surfaced as state policymakers review new performance and governance standards for virtual charter schools.

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