BURLINGTON—The Burlington Area School District (BASD) is launching its first virtual charter school. The district received approval from the school board allowing the district to go forward and open Wisconsin Connect Charter School (WisCo).
The new virtual charter school will focus on educating students in grades 4K-12.
Charter schools are schools created through a contract or ‘charter’ between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board.
Presenting charter school to the BASD school board
Assistant Superintendent Jill Oelslager presented, with Mandy Adams, a proposal for
adding a charter school to the school board on Jan 9. Adams joined BASD as the district’s
Virtual Learning Coordinator in August.
“WisCo meets the needs of families looking for educational opportunities outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar school experience,” Oelslager said.
School board approval was needed to apply for a charter school. Now, approval from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is needed.
BASD hopes the charter school will be approved in Jan. and then the district will be able to start accepting open enrollment in Feb.
Current virtual options at BASD
The district’s current virtual learning program serves 39 BASD students and is growing. Students enrolled participate in fully online course schedules and in a hybrid model of online and in-person instruction.
Soon, WisCo will add a book-based virtual program, too, according to the press release.
The anticipated book-based program will regularly deliver physical materials to students meaning less time on a computer, an option that families have requested.
“At first, Wisconsin Connect was intended to phase out the online instruction options the
district offers such as JEDI Virtual Academy (the contract with JEDI expires in Summer 2023),
Edgenuity, and Arrow. Since the fall, the scope of WisCo has expanded to meet the comprehensive needs of students and families,” the release reads.
Virtual charter school governance
Wisconsin Connect Charter School’s governance board will oversee the charter school, which will have its own bylaws. They will make recommendations to the school board for its approval.
It is noted in the press release that the current governance board members include Joe Busch (President), Jamie Cook (Vice President), Bonnie Trophey (Clerk), Oelslager (Treasurer), and Adams.
Benefits of WisCo
WisCo is ideal for families looking for a fully virtual learning opportunity while being provided with a coach that will oversee academic progress and provide mentorship throughout their learning progression.
This program will be attractive to homeschool and virtual students.
BASD says having a charter school will give them the flexibility to be innovative in exploring new
ways to provide virtual learning. The online learning platform comes through VLN Partners LLC,
which offers a comprehensive course catalog. It meets the needs of full-time students, credit
recovery, and access to classes not offered in person.
“We are committed to focusing on the individual student and creating the best structure for each student,” Adams said. She schedules regular checks-in with all virtual students to ensure each student is progressing and their needs are supported.
For information about the Wisconsin Connect Charter School, please contact Mandy Adams by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 262-763-0200.
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