Greenfield, MA School Officials Assess Options for Future of Virtual School

In Greenfield, Massachusetts the school committee voted late last month not to apply for a new school certificate for the district’s virtual academy under a new law requiring stronger state supervision of online schools. That vote effectively closes the state’s only online public school on June 30th.

The virtual academy serves 450 students from across the state and opened in 2010. Since the vote, parents from the school have reacted with “dismay, shock, grief, despair,” according to Susan Hollins. Hollins is the Greenfield Superintendent. She says parents have petitioned to keep the school open next year. She says she sees three ways that could happen: the school committee could reconsider its vote and apply to remain open as a state-run school, the department of Elementary and Secondary Education could reconsider its March 25th application deadline for a new certificate, or the legislature could change the implementation date of the new law, giving the school more transition time. Hollins says she thinks one of the three parties involved will take action to avert closing the school before this summer.

“Something has to happen at the least to give Greenfield school district time to think,” says Hollins.

Hollins claims the district was not given enough time to put together an application for a certificate under the new law. But she says the district has had a plan in place since the school opened to “wind down” the school over a year-long period if the school ever needed to close.