Greenfield Virtual School Heads for Switch to State Supervision

The sole online-only public school in Massachusetts, based in Greenfield, is moving forward with a plan to convert to a charter-like, independent structure later this summer. Under a law passed in January, online public schools can no longer be run by local districts, but must have state supervision. Greenfield Superintendent Susan Hollins says a state education board will make a decision on the Greenfield Virtual Academy’s proposal to become an independent school on June 25th. She says if the state approves a certificate, the new virtual school will make the conversion.

“Our school ends midnight, June 30th, and at one minute after midnight on July 1st, if the school has a certificate, the new school is born. The old school gave birth to the new, independent school.”

State Department of elementary and secondary education spokesperson JC Considine says the state will likely approve the school’s proposal if it deems the application acceptable. He says the board will also determine the length of the school’s certificate, which could be three to five years. Hollins says she expects about 75 percent of the school’s current 450 students from across the state to return next year, if the certificate is granted. She says that decline is due to uncertainties in the school’s status over the last several months. But she says the online school is looking to expand to 750 students next year, and is currently accepting applications for the fall, though those will not be acted on until July.