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Virtual School

Virtual board’s 1st meeting tonight

Note: Tonight’s meeting has been canceled. The board will meet next Monday. More in Wednesday’s Recorder.

GREENFIELD — The five-member board that will run Greenfield’s cyber school from now on will meet officially for the first time tonight at 6 at the Greenfield School Department’s administrative offices on Davis Street.

The Massachusetts Virtual Academy has for the past three years used the Internet to teach students across the state. But last week it changed form and became the state’s first Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School, which means a separation from the Greenfield School Department and increased state oversight.

The five trustees have been planning for weeks — through in-person meetings, conference calls and emails — to take over the school’s reins from the Greenfield School Committee. It wasn’t an official board until July 1, and must from now on have only public meetings, following the state’s Open Meeting Law.

The board members — Edward Berlin, Paul Bassett, Christopher Joseph, Michael Phillips and Christina Powell — will have a number of tasks ahead of them so that the school can open.

This week, the board must write, approve and submit to the state a copy of the school’s bylaws.

It must then make contractual agreements with Virginia-based education provider K12 for curriculum services and with the Greenfield School Department for administrative services. The virtual school budget must be completely separate from the local public schools’ one, and the board must pay any Greenfield school administrators for work they do for the virtual school, work covered previously by their public school salaries.

The School Committee selected the virtual school trustees in May. Three trustees are from Greenfield: former Town Councilors Berlin and Joseph, and Internet strategist and activist Phillips. Bassett, of Erving, was former head of school for Stoneleigh Burnham School. Powell, of Reading, is a virtual school parent.

The school taught 470 students this year, including a dozen from Greenfield who attend for free. Until this year, it could only accept kindergarten through Grade 8 students, although those students could continue with the school into high school grades.

Now, the school can expand to as many as 750 students, including 250 in the high school. At any given time, at least 2 percent of the students must be from Greenfield, which could limit the school’s ability to expand.

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

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