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Virtual School

Greenfield schools’ involvement in virtual school nearing end

GREENFIELD — By month’s end, the Greenfield School Department will no longer be involved with the virtual school it helped create four years ago.

After three years of running the school and eight months of serving as hired administration, the school department will spend March closing out its accounts with the Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School, according to an agreement reached Friday night.

Representatives from the Greenfield School Committee and the virtual school’s board of trustees will meet today privately to discuss the exit plan. The cyber school uses the Internet to teach 505 students across the state, including 17 who live in Greenfield.

The virtual school had been paying the Greenfield School Department 7.5 percent of its tuition revenue, nearly $21,000 each month, to provide administrative services to the school. The virtual school will pay the Greenfield schools 4.5 percent this month, for about $12,400.

The Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School became autonomous in July and, like the Four Rivers Charter Public School, is its own school district in Massachusetts.

At first, the virtual school depended on its former brick-and-mortar school department because it lacked the administrators needed to run things on its own.

But in the fall, the cyber school appointed Carl Tillona as executive director and has been working on bringing more administrators on board.

Tillona said the school is close to reaching an agreement with The Management Solution, a school management services contractor.

Virtual school board Chairman Ed Berlin said he’s confident the school will be managed effectively.

He expects a friendly relationship with the Greenfield schools going forward. The two entities still have things to offer one another: Greenfield students receive free virtual classes and the virtual school’s ability to expand depends on the number of local attendees.

Last week’s agreement came three days after the state’s education board granted approval for the state’s second virtual school.

The Education Cooperative, a collaborative that serves 50,000 students in towns west of Boston, will open the TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School this fall. It can enroll up to 1,000 students in its first year as long as at least 50 of those students are from the collaborative’s member schools.

You can reach Chris Shores at: shores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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