Urban Cyber Charter School could be on its way to Central Pennsylvania
7:01 p.m. EDT, September 26, 2012
Next school year, students in Central Pennsylvania and across the Commonwealth could have an opportunity to attend an “Urban Cyber Charter School.” The school will target urban populations, while focusing on students who are at risk of school failure. Those heading up the initiative call the school a great combination of a brick and mortar school and online learning.
Urban Charter is partnering with YWCAs across Pennsylvania with hopes of servicing 6th through 12th graders next fall. While the majority of classes are offered online, sports science and performing arts programs will bring students into the classroom. In York, the sports science program will be held at the city’s YWCA. The performing arts program will be held at the Strand-Capital Performing Arts Center. The idea is to offer both online classes to assure students’ needs are meant regardless of individual circumstances and/or commitments, and in classroom instruction to give students the opportunity to engage in one on one teacher/student learning.
“It’s designed to meet students with special needs that would not allow them to go to a traditional brick and mortar school,” said Denise Stouffer, 3 Cord Inc.
YWCAs will also offer cyber cafes. It is a location where students can meet teachers if they have questions and or concerns pertaining to coursework. An approval application will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education next month. A decision is expected to be made by the end of the year. If approved, students in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Central Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth as a whole will have the opportunity to participate. The school plans to accept 250 students next fall and upwards of 2,000 students within 5 years.
Plans in works for new cyber charter school in York
School would be managed by 3Cord Inc., which manages New Hope Academy.
By ANGIE MASON
York, PA -
Efforts are under way to start a new cyber charter school focused on urban youth, to be managed by the same company that manages New Hope Academy Charter School in York.
An application to start the Urban Cyber Charter School will be submitted to the state by Oct. 1, said Denise Stouffer, assistant managing officer for 3Cord Inc, based in York.
Unlike brick-and-mortar charters, which are approved by local school boards, cyber charter schools are approve by the state. Like brick-and-mortar charters, the student’s home school district pays for the student to attend.
Urban Cyber Charter School would be managed by 3Cord and partner with the YWCA to provide “urban cyber cafes” at local YWCA sites around Pennsylvania that would offer additional education resources to students, according to a news release.
Stouffer said that 3Cord’s schools have seen students over the years who did not fit with the traditional school model for various reasons. Through a “bricks-and-clicks” model, Urban Cyber would offer an online educational program as well as the support services of a brick-and-mortar school through the cyber cafes, she said.
A teacher and family liaisons would be available at the cyber cafes, she said.
The school would use e2020, which provides online instruction and videos for students and teacher access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Stouffer said. The program, which has been used for credit recovery or remedial programs in other 3Cord schools, is provided in multiple languages for students who might have language barrier issues.
Stouffer said the idea is to provide in-person relationships as well as the flexibility of a cyber school to meet the needs of a unique population. If a child starts to fall behind, she said, there should be three safety nets — the online teacher provided by e2020, a teacher from Urban Cyber, and the family liaison provided by Urban Cyber.
In the first year, there would be two other curriculums — sport science and performing arts — available for students in the York, Lancaster and Harrisburg areas, Stouffer said. Those would be virtual programs, but developed locally.
Deb Stock, CEO of the YWCA York, said the YWCA was initially contacted about having former Philadelphia Eagle Ron Johnson, now working for the YWCA, work on health- and fitness-oriented curriculum, and then the partnership grew to include the cyber cafes.
In York, students also would be able to participate in fitness classes and activities at the York YWCA, she said.
If approved by the state, the school would open in the fall of 2013 for grades six to 12. Stouffer said the school would look to enroll between 200 and 250 students from around the state.
Urban Cyber board President Ryan Davis, of Windsor Township, said he has a passion for working with children and was approached by 3Cord about developing the cyber charter. The rest of the board is still being established, he said.
Davis said he likes the Urban Cyber Charter model because it gives kids a chance to fulfill their academics while also focusing on other dreams or goals, like performing arts. For those students who don’t fit into the traditional school mold, he said, it would be another option.
Learn more about plans for Urban Cyber Charter School at www.UrbanCyber.org.
3Cord Inc, which would manage a proposed new cyber charter school, is the education management company for New Hope Academy Charter School, which is currently appealing the York City School Board’s decision to deny its renewal for another five years.
Asked if the appeal process could have any impact on the cyber charter application, Denise Stouffer, assistant managing officer for 3Cord, said it should not.
“There’s no direct connection at all between the two programs,” she said.