West Virginia approves first two online charter schools

West Virginia will have its first two online charter schools now that the education institutions received approval from the West Virginia Professional Charter Schools Board.

The board approved the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and the Mountain State Learning Solutions, which will provide online education for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. The charter schools will provide more choice for parents who do not want to send their children to their assigned public school and was seen as a win for school choice advocates.

“The approval of online charter schools [is] yet another option on the growing education menu in West Virginia,” Garrett Ballengee, the executive director of the Cardinal Institute for WV Policy, told The Center Square. “As the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns demonstrated, some kids do better in a virtual-learning environment, so, hopefully, these charter schools may provide a more ideal environment for those wanting that virtual experience.”

West Virginia established its charter school system in 2019. Although the state does not have any in operation yet, its first three in-person charter schools will open next Fall. The board approved these brick-and-mortar schools last week.

State law allows up to 10% of the student population to enroll in charter schools and up to 5% of the student population to enroll in virtual charter schools, according to laws passed in 2021. The legislature also voted to increase the number of charter school options that year, allowing the board to approve 10 new charter schools every three years, which is more than triple the allotment provided under the 2019 law.

Lawmakers also passed legislation that allows eligible parents to use public money to enroll their children in private schools. This legislation redirects money that would have otherwise been used to fund the child’s public education.

The 2021 school choice bills received support from Republican leadership and free-market groups, but were opposed by Democratic leadership and teachers unions.

This article was originally posted on West Virginia approves first two online charter schools

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