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Virtual School

Board amends virtual school contract

K12 has already OK’d proposes changes

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee voted Tuesday night to clarify its agreement and amend its three-year contract with K12 — a Virginia-based online company that provides teachers, curriculum, online learning tools and physical course materials for Greenfield’s Massachusetts Virtual Academy.

The contract amendments are all agreements that are already being practiced between the school district and the curriculum company, said Chairman John Lunt.

The amendments clarify that the three-year contract will end on June 30. Each virtual school student takes five courses instead of six, according to the amendments, and the school district is not responsible for certain costs such as special education evaluations and the replacement of lost computers.

K12 has approved all of the contract changes, the committee said. Ryan Clepper, a K12 employee and head program administrator for Greenfield’s virtual school, attended the meeting, although he did not speak.

All but one of the committee members present for the meeting approved the amendments. Francia Wisnewski abstained, saying she didn’t feel comfortable supporting the changes with uncertainty in the air about the merits of online education and the K12 company.

Maryelen Calderwood was not present Tuesday.

“This is ... not the opening of negotiations for a successor contract,” Lunt told School Committee members. That process will begin in January when a sub-committee will begin reviewing curriculum company options, he said.

When the Massachusetts Virtual Academy opened in 2010, it became the state’s first virtual school. At the start of this school year, 460 students from across the state were enrolled — many of whom are unable, or unwilling, to attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools, according to school officials.

The school has been monitored closely by state officials. Pending legislation would put all virtual schools — including Greenfield’s, if the School Committee decided to continue it — under the control of the state’s department of elementary and secondary education.

Greenfield has an opt-out clause in its contract with K12 that it could use if legislation went into effect. If the district decided to close the virtual school, it would be open for at least one year more to give parents time to find another school for their students, the committee said.

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