Amy Sinclair

The Iowa Senate has voted to expand online learning options for Iowa students. If the bill wins House approval, too, there would be no longer be a limit on the number of Iowa students who may take classes online rather than attend a traditional school in their neighborhood.

Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton, said the bill, which covers a variety of education-related proposals, has two main purposes.

“To expand opportunities for all students in the state of Iowa and, two, to reduce the regulatory burden for all local school districts,” Sinclair said.

There are currently two Iowa school districts which offer online academies — CAM in western Iowa and Clayton Ridge in eastern Iowa. Students use the state’s “open enrollment” process to sign up. The bill would let other Iowa school districts develop an exclusive online curriculum for their students. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said that means struggling online students might get help from local teachers or even some tech support from the district.

“They won’t have to open enroll 100 or 200 miles away to some district that never sees them in person,” Quirmbach said.

The legislation also would require an in depth review of Area Education Agencies that support local districts. In addition, it would let schools indicate on a high school diploma if a graduate is fluent in more than one language.