Gov. Justice signs virtual ed bill, vetoes non-public student vocational access

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Gov. Justice signs virtual ed bill, vetoes non-public student vocational access
By Ryan Quinn, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday signed a bill allowing public school systems to offer home-schoolers and other students full-time K-12 virtual education, and vetoed legislation that would’ve let home and private school students attend public vocational education schools without being charged more than public schoolers.

Justice signed and vetoed several K-12 education bills Wednesday, the last day he had to either officially approve or disapprove of bills passed during this year’s regular legislative session. If he took no action, they would automatically become law without his signature.

Here are his actions on several bills:

Signed: Senate Bill 630, which will allow county public school systems to offer virtual education and “an online pathway for earning a high school diploma,” while also receiving the full per-pupil state school aid formula funding for each student who participates, including home-schoolers.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring spoke to lawmakers in favor of the bill. So did lobbyists and an official from K12 Inc., a company that provides online education.

Duerring said the bill also allows participating students, including home-schoolers, to participate in sports and other public school-related activities.

SB630, while it says it’s not intended to save money through personnel cuts, exempts online courses from things like maximum teacher-pupil ratios.

It will allow a county school board or groups of school boards to offer “virtual instruction programs,” which provide “a full-time online or blended program of instruction for students enrolled in any composition of grades kindergarten through twelve.”

SB630 defines “blended” programs as those that at least partly include online learning and at least partly include education “in a supervised setting outside the home.”

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