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Published in Print: June 12, 2013, as Phila. District Plans to Open Online School

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Phila. District Plans to Open Online School

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The Philadelphia school district, which has been plagued by budget woes and declining enrollment, has announced plans to open a virtual academy in an effort to lure students and families back to the system.

Superintendent William Hite predicts that the district could offer a "superior online educational experience."

The goal is to make the Philadelphia Virtual Academy the "preferred choice for parents and students who want a quality online education," Hite said in a statement.

The school would serve students in grades 6-12 and open next academic year, Hite said. District officials say the virtual academy fits within Hite's vision to create new, more flexible, and more innovative models for delivering education to students, within the system, which has an estimated enrollment of 138,000 K-12 students.

The district would run the academy through a partnership with Chester County Intermediate Unit, a regional education agency.

State-run virtual schools have become a fixture around the country: There are 27 of those schools in existence today, by the most recent count of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. But it's become increasingly common for city school districts to run their own online schools, says Susan Patrick, the president and chief executive officer of the association.

Vol. 06, Issue 03, Page 10

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