“We’ve already looked at some preliminary things in terms of reaching back out to those families, letting them know about (OnCourse),” Hill said. “We’ll see how that falls.”
The remainder of the students could return to a brick-and-mortar school, Hill said. The students may also have the option to attend other online schools similar to ECOT, he said.
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“I’ve always maintained the Springfield City School District provides a much higher-quality education than what they’re receiving in community and online schools,” Hill said.
Students must begin looking for a new school as soon as possible, the ODE said. The Springfield ECOT students range from kindergarteners through high schoolers.
Financially, if every student returns, the district would see about $6,000 per student more or about $500,000.
“I’ll be curious to see how it all shakes out and if we’ll get some of those dollars ECOT falsely claimed over the years,” Hill said.
ECOT claimed an enrollment of more than 15,000 students just two years ago, including more than 1,000 in the Dayton area. But state officials eventually challenged that figure, suggesting it had closer to 6,000 full-time students.
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ECOT argued that it merely had to “present” 920 hours of “learning opportunities” for students, while ODE said students had to be logged on and engaged in school activities. ECOT fought and lost multiple court challenges, and the state began clawing back $60 million that it paid the school in 2015-2016 based on the higher enrollment figure.
ECOT consistently ranked near the bottom on state test scores, earning five Fs and a D on the 2016-17 state report card components.
“Districts and schools have already taken actions to streamline and accelerate their enrollment processes (for ECOT students),” DeMaria said. “We know the entire education community will come together with care and compassion in the best interest of these students.”
The Ohio Department of Education posted information on its web site to help families seeking new schools.
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Clark County enrollment
• Clark-Shawnee: 3.0
• Greenon: 11.87
• Northeastern: 7.41
• Northwestern: 3.72
• Southeastern: 2.0
• Springfield: 79.48
• Tecumseh: 19.32
* Full-time equivalents as of Jan. 12
Source: Ohio Department of Education