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Virtual high school created to generate bucks

May 18, 2011 - Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools Dr. William Skilling has created yet another avenue for the district to generate revenue despite facing cuts in the school aid fund.

Beginning the fall of 2011, Oxford High School will have a virtual high school open to any high school student, both nationally and internationally.

"This is an area that is going to grow very quickly," Skilling said.

The virtual high school would allow students to take any core curriculum class OHS offers online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"It is a way for us to really enhance educational opportunities for our kids as well as to enhance our revenue stream without bringing students to Oxford," he said.

According to Skilling, the beauty of a virtual school is it allows the district to collect a percentage of the foundation grant money from the state for "virtual school of choice students" based on the number of classes a student takes and charge a tuition of $250 for students outside the school of choice boundaries, including out of state and out of country students, per class.

"We will have students in China taking classes from us next year who are part of our high school in China or are one of our sister schools," Skilling said.

For Oxford High School students, there is no charge to take an online class because the district already receives state aid for the student.

"All of our curriculum is moving towards a hybrid form of teaching so that students can come to school, have that lesson, then have that lesson available to them at online at home as well, along with their assignments and so forth," Skilling said.

Some virtual classes will be leased at $275 per port, while others will be paid for by a grant from the Michigan Department of Education as part of Project ReImagine.

Skilling noted the ports allow for more than one student to attend each virtual class.

He added the number of ports leased will be determined by the numbers of students enrolled in the virtual school and what classes they wish to take.

Students can take classes ranging from Algebra to Calculus, from Biology to Chemistry and Physics, just to name a few.

"Just about every core class we offer will be made available virtually," Skilling said.

So far, nearly 30 students from outside the district have already expressed interest in signing up to take one or more virtual classes.

Skilling noted that in the future the number of leased courses will decrease as the high school develops their own online courses.

"In a year's time, we will start to have our own courses that we developed," he said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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