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virtual charter schools

Proposal Would Expand Unproven Concept: Online-Only Alternative Schools

May 25, 2018
Creative Commons CC0 / Pixnio

The state’s largest virtual charter school wants to open an alternative high school for at-risk students, saying the school will better address the needs of struggling students who already attend or will enroll in its regular online school.

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

With the start of the 2018 legislative session eight days away, lawmakers have submitted a flurry of proposals related to education.

They range from the expected — proposed salary boosts and other financial compensation for teachers — to the unexpected, like bills to allow schools to sell and place ads on school buses and to permit students to apply their own sunscreen.

The intent of many other proposals is still unknown, as many education-related bills were submitted as “shell bills,” written with no substantive text and to be amended later.

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The state’s largest virtual charter school reported staggering growth for 2017-18, adding more than 4,000 students to its roster, according to the latest enrollment data.

Epic Charter Schools enrolled 13,158 students as of Oct. 1. That makes Epic the 11th largest “district” by size, slightly larger than Jenks Public Schools, which enrolled more than 12,000 students, data from the Oklahoma Department of Education shows.

Oklahoma state Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, applauds as students are introduced in the Senate gallery in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
Sue Ogracki / AP

Virtual charter schools would be required to track and report student attendance —something the schools aren’t currently tasked with doing — under a law proposed by an Oklahoma senator.

Oklahoma has five virtual charter schools, enrolling a combined 13,225 students. Two schools reported 100 percent attendance last year, drawing questions and criticism from education advocates.