Department of Education director, Jason Glass, says he’ll be asking the Legislature for one-and-a-half-million dollars for the next three years to expand internet on-line education opportunities for high school students.
“Last legislative session, the legislature actually codified Iowa Learning Online and gave it the authority to issue credit for students. What we need now is the cash to take it off the ground. And really, just a couple of years — three years of cash– to build its capacity up to serve students across the state, and then we’d be simply capturing the per pupil dollars that flow out to school districts on a per course basis,” Glass explains.
For example, if Iowa Learning Online is offering a course in advanced physics, that school district doesn’t have to offer that course in advanced physics, and the department would be using some of those per pupil dollars to fund the class. Glass says Iowa Learning Online helps those who aren’t doing well in traditional classrooms.
“We have students that are bullied. We have students that are medically fragile. We have students that need to be home for any number of reasons,” according to Glass. “Those are the kind of students we want to make this an option for.” He says the program also helps students who want more course options.
“So we may have a student that’s enrolled in a high school, and getting most of their courses at their local high school. But, then they supplement that with a few specialized courses that they take online. So, it’s really a way to both serve students that struggle in the traditional setting, but also students that are in the traditional setting to expand their offerings,” Glass says.
Glass says the million-and-a-half in state money would allow the program to become self-supporting. “We think that’s enough to scale Iowa Learning Online up to a level where we can serve most of the kids in the state, where there’s a market for this,” he says. “And then, from there, it can really grow to whatever size it needs to.”
Glass says the federal funding that was being used to operate Iowa Learning Online is expiring.