Jul 26, 2014

Michigan Senate Approves More 'Cyber Schools'

Vote also removes other limits; still needs approval from House of Representatives before going before Gov. Rick Snyder.

Michigan Senate Approves More 'Cyber Schools'

A package of education bills sponsored by Michigan Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, got a green light from the Senate, according to a statement released by Colbeck's office Thursday afternoon.

Senate Bill 619, which lifts the cap on cyber schools for Michigan students in kindergarten through 12th grade was approved by the Senate but must also be approved by the House of Representatives before going to Gov. Rick Snyder to be signed.

While Senate Bill 619 removes restrictions on cyber schools statewide

But the measure could cost the state more, according to a non-partisan analysis of the bill submitted to the legislature on Oct. 6. That report indicates that online classes could attract students who never attended public schools or have dropped out, meaning state per-pupil funding could increase by a minimum of $6,846 per student, based on 2011-12 figures.

Colbeck said cyber schools could individually tailor classes to each student's needs "while providing increased one-on-one communication with a teacher.”

The bill requires that news cyber schools be approved by the superintendent of public instruction and governed by independent, non-profit boards, school district boards or public charter school boards. The online schools would have to meet the same certification standards, curriculum requirements and testing requirements as other Michigan public schools.

“There are mechanisms in place to measure the results of a student’s cyber school education.

Colbeck’s bill is part of a larger education reform package that removes district boundaries, age limits and other conditions from student attending schools.

“These bills are about empowering parents with the education choices and opportunities that work best for their children and giving schools the flexibility they need to innovate and excel,” said Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, chairman of the Education Committee.

Supporters of SB 619 and other bills bundled with it: SB 621 – 623, and SB 709 – 710, refer to them as the Parent Empowerment Education Reform package. The bills next will be considered for a vote by the Michigan House of Representatives.

Don’t miss updates from Patch!