Online charter school awaits cyber-students

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page B2

Ohio’s first online charter school is about to open for business, and parents and students seem excited.

“The limits are sky high,” said Larry Terry, 49, of Risingsun, whose son Josh is one of the first students enrolled at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. “So many kids are left in the dark by the schools that it’ll be good to have another option.”

In February, Lucas County approved the electronic classroom as a charter school, though it won’t have traditional facilities. It exists primarily on the Internet, where a nervous student trying to avoid being called on by the teacher instead must worry about finding a note in his e-mail box.

“Logging on is our taking attendance,” electronic classroom Superintendent Coletta Musick said.

Under the model, which is being tried here first, students log on to a web site from home every day and, with the guidance of parents and teachers, decide what they’ll be doing that day. Students can download lessons and reference material; if they hit a snag, they can e-mail one of 35 teachers, who might be 100 miles away but will call them and provide assistance.

Students are tested regularly online, but they generally are allowed to work at an individual pace. If a student completes a grade level in only a few months, he or she can move on to the next one without delay.

The electronic classroom is made possible by Ohio’s charter school law, which allows the online school to receive the state subsidy of about $4,500 per pupil, even though it does not have the facilities costs of regular schools.

As a charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow does not charge tuition.