Thursday, June 07, 2001

'Virtual' site considered

CPS proposes leasing space for online school

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Public Schools officials proposed Wednesday to lease a Queensgate building as the site of a “virtual” high school that would open this summer.

        The lease and choice of a software provider for the virtual school may be voted on Monday night by the CPS board.

        However, board members raised several points about the cost — which was not presented in full — and viability of the project.

        “There are a lot of unanswered questions,” board member Florence Newell said.

        CPS administrators presented plans during a committee meeting Wednesday to open a virtual high school in August for about 250 students. Virtual schools allow students to take courses online from anywhere they have access to the Internet.

        Administrators would like to see the school based in a centrally located, 3,100-square-foot building they would lease at 1150 W. Eighth St., where students could have access to about 75 leased computers. The cost to lease the building would be $35,652 a year.

        Dr. Newell, who said she supports the concept, asked why the administration is not considering housing the virtual school at Taft High School in the West End, where a pilot virtual program was held last semester.

        Associate Superintendent Kathleen Ware said the focus of Taft next year should be implementing an information technology program for juniors and seniors.

        Board member Harriet Russell and Dr. Newell requested the full start-up costs of the project.

        “We should not be functioning like blind rubber stamps on this and other projects,” Ms. Russell said. “I prefer to support the program ... because the program is financially sound.”

        CPS charter schools manager John Rothwell, said start-up costs would include $198,000 for software to provide the online course work and costs for a new server, hardware and furniture.

        Additional costs — leasing the building and up to 100 computers and paying salaries of at least four teachers and a part-time business manager — would come from the district's operating budget, he said.


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