Tonight, the Greenfield School Committee is scheduled to revisit its decision to drop its the Massachusetts Virtual Academy (MAVA) from its list of programs.
Just days ago, Greenfield’s online educational partnership with the Virginia-based K12 company was considered history. The committee had decided to throw in the towel, given the past run-ins with the state over what the district was doing and the uncertainty of the new law overseeing virtual education, as well as questions about K12 and its educational results.
That initial decision, however, caught everyone outside of the school district off guard, and engendered a strong reaction that sparked its own surprise.
Families enrolled in the virtual school felt they had been left in the lurch. These families, 470 of them from around the state, would be forced to find another alternative when it came to education.
But as it turns out, these families weren’t the only ones feeling dismayed by the decision. State education officials, too, realized that they actually needed Greenfield after all.
We think it would be fair to say that the state wasn’t prepared for Greenfield Public Schools to opt out just as the state Elementary and Secondary Education Department’s legislative framework for virtual schools was belatedly coming into law. The state was unprepared for having a virtual school presence without Greenfield being willing to operate MAVA next year. And this was only going to get increasingly uncomfortable for the state as families and their lawmakers came looking for answers.
So where does Greenfield go from here?
We think that for at least a year, the district should take the high ground and keep MAVA open. That would provide everyone with time. And another year would give Greenfield a chance to see just how valuable it is to the state when it comes to the virtual school and what kind of relationship this is going to be. It also gives those families enrolled in MAVA another year of schooling and time to consider other options.
And it gives state education officials time to get their own virtual school act in gear.
After that, who knows? But if, after a year, Greenfield decides to opt out, it won’t be because the town didn’t try to make it work.
And then all focus will be back where it should be — with the state.