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04.28. 11 Virtual Charter School Bill Dies in Committee

The "Provide for Public Charter Schools Act," which would have created the mechanism to create virtual charter schools in Montana, dies in the Senate Education Committee.
The were no plans or time frame to revive the legislation.

03.11.11 Montana Bill Would Allow Virtual Charter Schools

There are no virtual charter schools in Montana. There are no charter schools in the state. Why? Because Montana does not have a charter school law.
That may all change if  HB 603 is approved.
"Provide for Public Charter Schools" is the name of the bill that is scheduled for a hearing before the House Education Committee this week.
Basically, the measure allows for fully funded virtual charters including competency-based alternatives to seat time.
Charter holders will be nonprofit organizations. The bill a charter board can hold multiple charters.
Montanans have wanted charters for some time. A 2008 survey reported that 9 out of 10 voters wanted the option to "send their children to a private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate their children in a home school setting."
These strong feelings may be one reason Montana's home-school community is backing  HB 603.
The School Administrators of Montana  is one of the groups opposing the bill.
01.27.11 Montana School Districts Get Federal Money for Virtual Education

Thirteen Montana schools will receive a grant of nearly $1 million to purchase technology for district learning, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced.
The grant we were involved with were five schools in western Montana that banded together and went for this technology grant,” Troy Schools Superintendent Brady Selle told The Western News.com said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for our school to not only get nice equipment but professional development of our staff.”
The schools will use the grants to purchase video-teleconferencing equipment, video cameras, smartboards, and broadband access.
“It allows us to share our resources,” Selle said. “If Hamilton is teaching an advanced placement physics class and maybe we have a student who wants to participate … we can dial it up and be a part of it.”
Baucus and Tester said making such technology available in the state could pay future dividends.
“These new opportunities will connect students in rural Montana to a whole new world of ideas that will inspire them to think critically about how to create the kinds of good-paying jobs our communities need,” Baucus said through a press release. “In addition, investing in education draws businesses to the state by creating a qualified workforce and sending a signal far and wide that Montana is a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
“Investing in our kids and the tools they need to be competitive in the future is a key for rebuilding our economy with good-paying jobs,” Tester said. “This simple investment will expand the educational opportunities for thousands of Montana students to give them more opportunities for their future.”
Each school will receive a video conferencing device, a mobile cart with a high-definition LCD television to allow video units to be moved from classroom to classroom, an infrastructure package that includes recording and streaming of video that allows playback, and multiple laptop-based video licenses and cameras for mobile use on teachers’ and students’ computers.
The grant also includes development and training for staff on use of the equipment as well as integration of technology into current curriculum. The program is supported and maintained for three years to ensure sustainability throughout the length of the grant.

10.13.10 Montana Digital Academy Enrollment 'Higher than Anticipated'

More than 1,500 students from across Montana enrolled in the first state-led virtual school, the Montana Digital Academy.
"With higher numbers than we even anticipated. We literally are serving students in all corners of the State of Montana, small districts, large districts, students that are in need of credit recovery and students that are taking advanced placement or dual credit for college," said Robert Currie, the school's director.
The Digital Academy will be funded with federal stimulus dollars for the next two years. Currie says after that he plans on asking the Montana legislature for future funding.
Click here to learn more about enrollment at the Montana Digital Academy.

7.8.10 State launches online classes for high schools
Montana Digital Academy, based at the University of Montana, Missoula, will offer 45 virtual high school classes in fall 2010.
This is the first year of a state-funded program.
"There have been other efforts," Bob Currie, director of the Digital Academy told the Great Fall, Mont. Tribune. "But it wasn't statewide. This is really the first statewide program."
In 2009, the Montana Legislature allocated $2 million of federal stimulus funds to underwrite the Digital Academy. 



Montana has a state-led virtual school. It is the Montana Digital Academy and is hosted by the College of Education at the University of Montana in Missoula. It opened in the fall of 2010 with 45 online high school courses and approximately 1,500 students.

The Montana Reinvestment Act is appropriating $2 million to Montana’s higher education system to develop and launch the Montana Virtual Academy. 

Montana does not have a virtual charter school that offers classes to student throughout the state.

In 20011, the "Provide for Public Charter Schools Act," which would have created the mechanism to create virtual charter schools in Montana, died in the Senate Education Committee.
The were no plans to revive the legislation.