Archive for Monday, July 5, 2004

New principal targets homeschoolers

Lawrence Virtual School open to students statewide

July 5, 2004


Lawrence Virtual School Principal Gary Lewis has started what may be the most difficult part of his job: finding students.

People won't just show up at his school's front steps like students at most schools. There are no front steps. In fact, there is no building.

"People aren't going to move into the area and say 'here's my local school,'" Lewis said last week.

He noted that students all over the state can attend the Lawrence Virtual School.

Lawrence public schools received $101,709 by applying for a grant to open a charter school. The grant money will go toward startup costs such as equipment and salaries. But the district also will receive $3,863 in state aid for every student enrolled in the virtual school, the same amount the district receives for each student enrolled in the district.

"Certainly, that's not going to hurt us," Supt. Randy Weseman said. "But I believe we need a continuum of services. One size doesn't fit all and this expands the opportunities we can provide."

One of the main groups of students Lewis is going to try to recruit is homeschoolers. He intends to send letters to most, if not all, of the 12,367 nonaccredited private schools registered with the Kansas State Department of Education. Lewis also said he would try to do question-and-answer sessions with people interested in the virtual school.

He said virtual school students would have to take state assessment tests, which could be a deterrent for some.

Lewis said he wouldn't try to force the school on anyone. If people aren't feeling comfortable about it, it might not be the right time for them to participate, he said.

To find out more about the Lawrence Virtual School, call Gary Lewis at 832-5009, ext. 624.

Lawrence resident Allison Ekren homeschools her two children. She said she would at least look into the Lawrence Virtual School.

"I would be interested in finding out more about it," Ekren said. "I don't know if I would use it. I'd need more details."

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