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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Virtual Innovation Schools: Waiver Request from Hadley Public Schools

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
March 11, 2011

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The Hadley Public Schools is requesting a waiver of the Board's regulations on innovation schools (603 CMR 48), to allow for the opening of the Hadley Virtual Academy of Massachusetts (HVAM) next September. HVAM will be a virtual innovation school initially serving grades 6-12, with plans to expand to grades 3-12. The district will be contracting the operation of HVAM to Kaplan Virtual Education, a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. The school's innovation plan has been approved by the Hadley School Committee, which is a requirement of the statute.

Hadley is requesting a waiver of the regulation which requires that at least 25% of the enrollment in a virtual innovation school must be from the sponsoring district. Their request is to reduce this limit to 2%, which is identical to the waiver I granted last fall to the Greenfield virtual innovation school on your behalf. As we saw in the case of Greenfield's school, the 25% requirement is problematic for a small district, where the number of students interested in a virtual school is likely to be small.

At the Board's April meeting, we will have an in-depth discussion of virtual education, including an updated status report on the first year of operation of the Greenfield virtual school. In the meantime, the proposed Hadley virtual school will provide both competition and choice in this emerging model. We will be monitoring both of these experiments closely.

A copy of the waiver request from the Hadley Public Schools is attached, along with the regulations on virtual innovation schools and a motion for your approval. Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will be available at the meeting to answer any questions.

Enclosures:

Waiver request from Hadley Public Schools
Regulations on virtual innovation schools, 603 CMR 48.05
Motion



Last Updated: March 15, 2011
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