Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
School Choice & Charters

Cyber Charters vs. ‘Multi-District Online Schools’

By Benjamin Herold — November 03, 2016 1 min read

GOAL Academy is a charter school, authorized by Colorado’s Falcon District 49 and governed by its own board of directors.

Rocky Mountain Digital Academy is what’s known as a “multidistrict online school.” Like GOAL, it’s authorized by a public agency. Unlike GOAL, however, Rocky Mountain Digital is governed by that same public agency—Colorado Digital BOCES, which is ultimately responsible for the school.

Across the country, interest is growing in such new types of non-charter management models.

But in Colorado, as in other states, multidistrict online schools have faced some of the same problems that plague cyber charters.

Two likely reasons: The same people are often involved in both types of schools, and for-profit management companies continue to play a large role.

Colorado Digital BOCES and Falcon District 49, for example, share common board members and common administrative, financial, legal, and communications personnel.

Take Kim McClelland. She’s the executive director of Colorado Digital BOCES, where she was a driving force behind the creation of Rocky Mountain Digital Academy. She was also an assistant superintendent at Falcon District 49, where she oversaw the district’s move to become GOAL Academy’s authorizer in 2013.

In both capacities, McClelland worked closely with the leadership of GOAL and the Summit Education Group—almost all of whom had roles with both entities.

At Colorado Digital BOCES, she helped lead the push to award a large management contract to Summit, despite the company’s thin track record, GOAL’s history of poor performance, and a conflict of interest involving Ken Crowell (the founder and chief of both the school and the company).

“You have to give innovation an opportunity to thrive,” McClelland said.

Less than two years after the contract was awarded, GOAL Academy, Rocky Mountain Digital Academy, and the Summit Education Group were in disarray.

A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2016 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Home Schooling Is Way Up With COVID-19. Will It Last?
The shift could have lasting effects on both public schools and the home-schooling movement.
10Homeschool IMG
School Choice & Charters Opinion Challenging 3 Common Critiques of School Choice
A new volume from Corey DeAngelis and Neal McCluskey challenges some of the familiar but suspect assertions that pepper public debates about school choice.
3 min read
School Choice & Charters Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
School Choice & Charters Opinion COVID-19 Has Capsized the Case Against School Choice
Amid the pandemic, public schools aren't able to deliver on their promises. This makes it hard to denounce school choice's tapestry of options as an inadequate or immoral alternative.
2 min read