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Going ‘Virtual’: River Falls school board throws the switch

Call it a technological leap. Monday night, Jan. 20, the school board approved the school district’s virtual charter school application to the state Department of Public Instruction.

There are only about 30 such “virtual” schools in Wisconsin out of 423 school districts.

“I’d like to think our school district is staying on the edge of technological change,” Superintendent Jamie Benson said. “The virtual school is not meant to replace teachers, but to use the new technologies in an integrated way to enhance the education for some independent student learners who are ready,”

Benson said state approval is expected right away. The new school’s formation means it’ll be listed on the DPI website with other virtual charter schools.

Students from outside River Falls can -- through the open enrollment process -- also take classes offered by the local virtual school.

Benson said there remains a ton of work to be done before the River Falls virtual charter school is operating next fall.

For one, the new school needs a name. For another, there will a board appointed that will oversee the school’s policies, academics and finances, but that also must answer to the regular school board.

The virtual charter school’s focus, to begin with, will be high school-age students.

For more on this story, please see the Jan. 23 print edition of the River Falls Journal.