Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Public education meets the 21st Century -- and profits!
Tiny District Finds Bonanza of Pupils and Funds Online
BRANSON, Colo. - With no grocery store or gas station and a population of 77 souls, this desert village seems an unlikely home for a fast-growing public school that has enrolled students from all across Colorado.
There are just 65 students attending Branson's lone brick and mortar school, but there are an additional 1,000 enrolled in its online affiliate. And with the state paying school districts $5,600 per pupil, Branson Online has been a bonanza. Founded in 2001, it has received $15 million so far.
The school district has used the money to hire everyone in town who wants a job, including the mayor, who teaches 15 students via e-mail...
"Cyberschools are the 800-pound gorilla of the choice movement, although vouchers and charter schools get a lot more attention," said William Moloney, education commissioner in Colorado, where state financing for online schools has increased almost 20-fold in five years - to $20.2 million for 3,585 students today from $1.1 million for 166 full-time students in 2000.
"That's a mighty steep curve, and nothing says it won't keep growing," Mr. Moloney said... [NY Times]