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Virtual School

Greenfield residents join virtual school board

GREENFIELD — Two former Greenfield School Committee members are poised to join the Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School’s board of trustees, pending state approval.

The trustees voted 4-0 Monday to appoint Greenfield residents Doris Doyle and Jeffrey Hampton to the board, to two- and three-year terms, respectively. The five-member board decided to expand by two members last month and Doyle and Hampton were the only applicants for the open seats.

The virtual school is in its fourth year of operation but its first as an independent school, run by a board of trustees. The state must sign off on any changes to the virtual school’s governing certificate, including the number of trustees and who will fill those slots.

Doyle, the former clerk magistrate of Franklin Superior Court, served on the Greenfield School Committee from 2007 until this June. She served as the committee’s chairwoman for one year and was heavily involved in virtual school planning as the leader of the department’s innovation subcommittee.

Hampton, a member of the Franklin County Technical School Committee, served on the Greenfield School Committee from 2005 to 2007. Superintendent Susan Hollins told the board that his daughter graduated from the virtual school. Although the school had only been able to accept new students in kindergarten through eighth grade, any Greenfield students were able to attend the school.

Other updates

Also on Monday, the virtual school board ratified agreements with both the Town of Greenfield and the Greenfield School Department.

The virtual school will pay the town $15,000 this year to conduct the school’s treasurer services, such as signing checks.

Most of the business manager services, though, will be contracted out to the Greenfield School Department.

In the agreement approved last month by the Greenfield School Committee, the virtual school will pay the school department just under $500 per student for typical “central office” tasks such as superintendent duties, special education administration, data services, payroll and financial management, grant development and personnel hiring.

Hollins talked about a need to improve communications information on the school’s website, gcvs.org. The extra work needed to transition the school into its own independent entity has slowed recruiting efforts, she said.

There are just over 370 students currently enrolled in the school, although Hollins expects that number to grow during the next couple of months. The school will accept students even after the school year starts, she said.

The school’s administrators are calling each family individually to fully explain what it entails to be a virtual school student — an effort that could reduce the number of students who drop out mid-year, they said.

The virtual school board also finalized arrangements with Greenfield Savings Bank. Its $100,000 line of credit will be the only source of cash until the state sends the school its first payment later this year.

Chairman Ed Berlin was not present Monday so Vice-Chairwoman Christina Powell ran the meeting.

The school will soon know if any nearby school districts are vying for virtual school certificates.

Interested groups that want to start a virtual school in Massachusetts need to send a letter of intent to the state by Aug. 16. Full applications will be sent to the state by November and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will make final decisions next February.

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

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