Virtual School

More learned about virtual school applicants

Six groups vying for 2 more slots

The Children’s Study Home, a Springfield nonprofit organization that mainly serves at-risk children in the Pioneer Valley and Cape Cod, is vying for a virtual school certificate this fall.

The Mill Pond Commonwealth Virtual School “would serve children from the Springfield Public School District as well as surrounding districts that have students with specialized behavioral or social emotional needs,” wrote Eliza Crescentini, the organization’s executive director, in the letter to the state.

The organization was one of six groups to send in a letter to the state by its Aug. 16 deadline. Two Pioneer Valley education collaboratives also sent in a joint letter.

The state will award as many as two Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School certificates in February.

The proposed Mill Pond Commonwealth Virtual School would begin by serving kindergarten through eighth grade but would ramp up to teach all grades by 2018, according to the letter. The organization is aiming to teach 300 students in the first year and then accept 30 more students each year.

The organization would also set up a physical location for the virtual school at its Kathleen Thornton School in Springfield.

In the letter, the organization listed its Mill Pond School — a private Springfield special education school licensed by the state — as the virtual school’s sponsoring school district. But because the full letter was not available by press time on Aug. 16, a Recorder article the next day incorrectly identified the school as a public Westborough-based school of the same name.

6 potential applicants

Two Pioneer Valley collaboratives — the Collaborative for Educational Services and the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative — sent in a joint letter of intent to apply for a certificate.

The proposed Mattie Knight Commonwealth Virtual School would teach 100 students from sixth grade to 12th grade, according to the letter to the state. It would increase by 100 each year and target a broad range of students.

Applications could also come from the Boston Public Schools, the North Middlesex Regional School District and two applicants made up from education collaboratives in the central part of the state.

The information in the letters of intent is not binding. Collaboratives or school districts may make revisions before sending in official applications later this fall.

Early next year, state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester will make recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The board will make the final decision in February, granting up to two virtual school certificates.

Any cyber schools approved by the state could have financial ramifications for Greenfield, which currently hosts the state’s only virtual school: the Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School.

The town would have to pay tuition for any of its own residents who choice out to another virtual school. And Greenfield’s virtual school, now autonomous from the school department, would lose out on revenue with every student who elected to go elsewhere.

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


Could be local competition for cyber school

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Correction: The Children’s Study Home, a Springfield-based organization that manages the special education Mill Pond School, was one of six to send a letter of intent to the state to apply for a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools. Applications are due this fall.  The other potential applicant from western Massachusetts is a joint application by the Collaborative for Educational Services … 0

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