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House Considers Establishing Virtual School

Plans to set up a statewide virtual school came before the Missouri House today. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The bill would establish the Missouri Virtual School by July first of 2007...Bill supporters say it's an opportunity to use technology to bring advanced courses to students around the state.

The bill sponsor is Republican Brian Baker of suburban Kansas City.

He says there are many examples of how students will benefit from being able to take classes from their home.

And in some cases, Baker says the virtual school might supplement the education students receive from their local public school.

He says the virtual school would provide an alternative to students who attend school in a rural district that can't afford to offer advanced classes.

The bill would create a pilot program, initially only allowing 500 students to enroll in the Missouri Virtual School.

Baker says the proposal has the backing of several education lobby groups.

Any student in kindergarten through 12th grade would be eligible to enroll in the virtual school.

The bill includes a provision that requires the virtual school to offer curriculum from multiple providers...The idea is to ensure that one entity doesn't have a monopoly. Right now, Missouri State University provides virtual courses through the internet and instructional television. And the University of Missouri has a virtual high school program. Baker says he wants both schools and other providers to be able to participate in the Missouri Virtual School.

All courses and teachers that are part of the Missouri Virtual School would have to meet the same state education requirements that school districts must meet.

During initial debate on the proposal, no one expressed opposition to the bill.

The bill is up for first round approval in the House.