Quakertown Cyber School Success Spreads

Posted in the Quakertown Forum

Just The Truth

Hatfield, PA

#1 Apr 1, 2011
http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_int...

Cyber School Success Spreads
3/31/11 by Hilary Bentman - Calkins Media (page 1)

Quakertown school district has been hosting presentations and consulting with administrators throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties.

By all accounts, Quakertown School District's cyber school is a success.

The program provides 140 elementary through high school students with more flexibility and options in their education and it's saving the district money.

Now other districts are considering going cyber, too. Quakertown officials have been hosting presentations and consulting with administrators throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties.

At least one area district, Palisades, is actively discussing the development of its own cyber program for 12th-graders.

Like the other districts in Pennsylvania, Palisades is contending with mounting expenses related to charter and cyber charter school education and expects to lose its state reimbursement per the governor's 2011-12 state budget proposal.

Palisades anticipates spending $650,000 on charter school costs next year.

"There certainly is a financial consideration," said district spokeswoman Donna Holmes. "And of course the underlying landscape and climate in education is students want flexibility."

Currently, 36 Palisades students attend cyber schools elsewhere. The district hopes its own program brings those kids back.

By law, school districts must pay the tuition for students within their borders who attend charter and cyber charter schools elsewhere. The cost represents about 80 percent of the state-calculated per pupil cost assigned to each district.

Palisades and Quakertown both pay about $11,000 for regular education students and $22,000 for special education students.

But it is often cheaper to educate these students in-house. Some cyber schools, for instance, are using the same software as Quakertown, except it costs the local district only $4,800 per student in-house.

School districts have previously been able to receive up to 30 percent in reimbursement of their per pupil costs from the state. But Gov. Corbett's proposed $27.3 billion state budget for 2011-12 would eliminate the $224 million program that reimbursed school districts for charter costs.

Quakertown currently has 121 students living in its borders attending charter schools, the majority of whom are at cyber schools. Under the governor's proposal, Quakertown would lose $281,450 in reimbursement costs.

Palisades would drop about $65,000.

Quakertown started its cyber program, Infinity Cyber Academy, in 2009-10, primarily for financial reasons but also to provide students more options.

Officials have determined that 23 students last year and 27 students this year have chosen not to attend cyber schools elsewhere because they are enrolled in Quakertown's program. Officials estimate the district saved $275,000 last year and $297,000 this year because of their choice.

The expense of running Quakertown's program has dropped from nearly $210,000 last year to $158,000 this year, said Chris Harrington, district technology director and director of the Infinity Cyber Academy.

So the program's total savings, or cost avoidance, has jumped from $65,406 last year to $138,500 this year.

"Clearly it's cost effective," said Harrington.

Palisades is hoping to duplicate some of Quakertown's successes.

"We surveyed our students currently enrolled in cyber charter and they would be interested in a Palisades School District diploma," said Holmes. "Flexibility is important to them and working from home. We feel as though we can offer a solution."
Just The Truth

Hatfield, PA

#2 Apr 1, 2011
Cyber School Success Spreads
3/31/11 by Hilary Bentman - Calkins Media (page 2)

There are 12 state-chartered cyber schools, which accept students living anywhere in Pennsylvania. Some schools, like Quakertown, or intermediate units, offer their own cyber programs, which are not overseen by the state.

Quakertown's program is only open to district residents and Palisades would follow the same format.

In Quakertown, classes are taught by district staff and there was no increase in teachers to accommodate the cyber program. The program has grown from 91 students to 140 this year.

Students can take a full load of cyber courses or a blend of traditional and online. Last year, the district offered 317 classes online; this year it's up to 506.

Surveys have found that Quakertown's cyber students are pleased with the program. More than 80 percent of respondents said the program was meeting their academic and flexibility needs.

Thirty-six percent said they would have sought online courses elsewhere if Quakertown did not offer a cyber program.

Eventually, cyber courses will "no longer be viewed as new or a separate opportunity," said Harrington. "They will become our regular program. It will be just the way we do business here in the district."
Cyber parent

Trenton, NJ

#3 Apr 5, 2011
We left QT HS and went with PA Cyber. Works well for us. QT actually formed the Cyber in order to get some money that was being lost to other cyber programs. QT does not like competition and actively tries to deter parents from going with other cyber school programs. The "head" actually found herself in a stew by engaging in some technically illegal strong-arm tactics. It was quietly resolved.
Wondering

Allentown, PA

#4 Apr 5, 2011
Cyber parent wrote:
We left QT HS and went with PA Cyber. Works well for us. QT actually formed the Cyber in order to get some money that was being lost to other cyber programs. QT does not like competition and actively tries to deter parents from going with other cyber school programs. The "head" actually found herself in a stew by engaging in some technically illegal strong-arm tactics. It was quietly resolved.
While I agree that the "head" strong arms people in many situations, this is one that I feel she should! We are paying outrageous taxes with another large increase to come. Q-town has to pay for each student attending charter and cyber schools that are outside the district. If Qtown has a well rounded program in place in the district why should I or everyone else in this district pay to allow your child to enroll in the equivalant outside the district taking away from our own students? Qtown is not alone in doing this and with the economy in such dire straights I would expect many more districts to impliment the same thing.
Drop outs

Lansdale, PA

#5 Apr 6, 2011
Some kids who are not motivated and dont mix well with others take this as an easy out.Their family fails them and this only makes matters worse.
wondering

Atlanta, GA

#6 Apr 6, 2011
Easy way out? Do you realize that the cyber school is the sign of the times? Soon enough, there will be no more 'brick and motar' schools for universities and colleges. If you can be that self-disciplined and take cyber classes, more power to you!
TruthBToldSeller vileISP

Sellersville, PA

#7 Apr 6, 2011
Cyber courses are the 21st century equivalent of the mid 20th century workbooks which were then designated as programed learning. Students proceed at their own pace and then are quizzed. If they have not learned the lesson, it is approached from a different angle. This continues, with the help of a live teacher, if necessary, until that benchmark (21st century terminology) is met by the student.

This system requires fewer teachers, less infrastructure (now it can be done over the internet from students' homes) and is cost efficient while achieving student achievement goals on par with traditional classes in brick and mortar schools.

If the QCSD had an accounting system that could show interested parties what the state and federal government contributions to each child's choice of other cyber schools above traditional QCSD or QCSD cyber school enrollment is, we could discuss this rationally, based on facts. Alas! Those figures are unavailable.
Not Again

Quakertown, PA

#8 Apr 6, 2011
TruthBToldSellervileISP wrote:
If the QCSD had an accounting system that could show interested parties what the state and federal government contributions to each child's choice of other cyber schools above traditional QCSD or QCSD cyber school enrollment is, we could discuss this rationally, based on facts. Alas! Those figures are unavailable.
What, like Quickbooks?

Get lost.
Stranger

Quakertown, PA

#9 Apr 6, 2011
The school district hasn't been honest from the beginning about what the actual costs are that are associated with the start up and maintenance of this cyber program and when it will actually begin to save money. Ask questions people!
Money Bags

Quakertown, PA

#10 Apr 6, 2011
wondering wrote:
Easy way out? Do you realize that the cyber school is the sign of the times? Soon enough, there will be no more 'brick and motar' schools for universities and colleges. If you can be that self-disciplined and take cyber classes, more power to you!
Yeah, colleges just love kids who drop out and take their classes at home. Typical Quakertown mentality!!!
MMm

Emmaus, PA

#11 Nov 6, 2012
Money Bags wrote:
<quoted text>Yeah, colleges just love kids who drop out and take their classes at home. Typical Quakertown mentality!!!
Sounds to me like someone needs an education !!!!! Get your facts straight -
Anonymous

Quakertown, PA

#12 Nov 6, 2012
School was boring. Working at my own pace, much faster. Earned paid-for courses at Bucks in 10th, 11th & 12th grades because I kept a 3.5 average. Can't beat that! I graduated hs early too.
Anonymous

Quakertown, PA

#13 Nov 6, 2012
I was in PAVCS first, then switched to PA Cyber. PAC had more freedom.
Lehigh Valley Resident

Philadelphia, PA

#14 Nov 7, 2012
Money Bags wrote:
<quoted text>Yeah, colleges just love kids who drop out and take their classes at home. Typical Quakertown mentality!!!
Was thinking the exact same thing. Its tough enough to get into a good college with a 3.5 and SATs above 1350.
Wow

Quakertown, PA

#15 Nov 7, 2012
Lehigh Valley Resident wrote:
<quoted text>Was thinking the exact same thing. Its tough enough to get into a good college with a 3.5 and SATs above 1350.
1350? That's well below the average score of 1498.
Wow

Quakertown, PA

#16 Nov 7, 2012
1350. That's only in the 33rd percentile!

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