By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — The School District of Marshfield will venture into the world of virtual education after the Marshfield School Board voted to form an association with the Rural Virtual Academy on June 14.
The move is an effort to support and retain students within the Marshfield School District who are interested in distance learning.
“We currently have 21 students enrolling out to other virtual school programs. Twelve of those are enrolling with Rural Virtual Academy, so if we then partner with them, rather than them going out, they stay our students, and then we also may have the plus of being able to capture some of the other nine students because now we have a more developed program here in Marshfield to attract them,” said Marshfield Curriculum & Instruction Chair Frances Bohon.
Superintendent Dee Wells stated that an affiliate membership with Rural Virtual Academy was a natural fit for the district as Marshfield has become a central meeting point for student members, and retaining them could help with state aid.
“Marshfield is the center for the districts that are already members around here, so a number of the activities that they do when they bring families together actually take place in Marshfield already,” Wells said. “So they are using us as the hub for the other ones around, and they do those activities here in Marshfield, many of them.
“Right now when students open enroll out, those dollars are subtracted at the end of the year from your last state aid receipt. The difference here is those students stay ours, so the state aid comes here, and you get to count them for all purposes of aid going forward.
“It’s a little bit tit-for-tat but not quite because it is open enrollment minus $1,500 per student, so you are keeping a little bit more back in your district.”
The board voted unanimously to proceed with a single-year affiliate membership with Rural Virtual Academy.
Rural Virtual Academy is based in the Medford School District. Students outside of affiliated districts must apply for open enrollment from their home district to become eligible for its programs.