Groveport Madison schools Superintendent Bruce Hoover hopes partnerships in developing a blended learning environment could prove successful as the district aims for Straight A state grant funds.
The $250-million Straight A grant program was announced by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in September, and is intended to fund innovative ideas that, according to the program website: meet the learning needs of its students, reduce the cost of running a school or school district, or drive more dollars to the classroom.
During the Oct. 10 school board meeting, Hoover said staff members hope to obtain seed money through the program to set up a consortium agreement aimed at developing a blended learning program in the district.
He said he'd like to implement a system that is already available, but partner on the project to provide greater options and flexibility, which he believes will deliver big savings to the district.
"There are a lot of schools who do virtual learning already," Hoover said. "This is not about working through the nuts and bolts of an e-learning application. We're looking at ways for our teachers to get trained and help students."
A blended learning environment is one where students have different options besides just traditional, face-to-face, in-class education opportunities. It includes online learning and other nontraditional options.
Groveport Madison currently partners with Ohio's Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow program to provide students with an online education option, but hopes a consortium with other central Ohio schools, particularly adjoining school districts, could allow for greater savings while keeping students in the district.
"We think we'd need $15 million to invest in this and make that jump as a district into this 21st-century learning," Hoover said. "One platform the consortium could use is ilearnOhio, which is an open-source curriculum platform that's a free service to Ohio school districts."
The platform is funded by the Ohio General Assembly, and is offered to Ohio schools for free, he said. It includes a repository of current, standards-aligned education content and works as a learning management system to deliver online courses to students.
"This is a competitive grant that has to be certified and then audited. The state auditor will come in after a year to see if there were actual savings," Hoover said. "I think it has the potential to save us a significant amount of money, and that's what the state wants out of the grant recipients."
The application deadline for this year's Straight A Funds is Oct. 25. According to the program website, grant award winners will be notified Dec. 17.