The voted Monday in favor of participating in the Oakland Virtual Learning Academy Consortium (VLAC), designed for homeschooled children.
VLAC provides a tuition-free, online education for home-schooled students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The program is run by Oakland (County) Schools and is open to students in six area counties, including Wayne.
Provided free of charge to VLAC students is a computer, Internet access, IT support, all curriculum materials and online access to a teacher for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
A big advantage of Trenton’s VLAC partnership is that the district can gain per-pupil state funding from it, said Principal Vincent Porreca.
Presenting the program to the board Monday, Porreca said students registering with VLAC do so through their local school district. He said the state allots funds accordingly to that district for the registered VLAC pupil, despite the fact that they are home-schooled.
“The student doesn’t actually have to be in our classrooms for us to collect the per-pupil (funding) from the state of Michigan,” Porreca said.
Per the agreement, however, participating schools pay Oakland Schools the cost of educating the child, an amount that Porreca said is not allowed to exceed the state per-pupil allotment.
Currently, he said the difference would be about $2,000 per pupil in Trenton’s favor.
Partnering with VLAC also requires school districts to provide its students with three things.
Participating districts must have special education services available for them if needed, allow for attendance in non-core courses, such as music and art, and allow participation in extra-curricular activities.
Before the board’s vote on Monday, Interim Superintendent Larry Leapley pointed out that each of the three aforementioned requirements is, by law, already available to homeschooled children living in the Trenton school district.
Leapley also said if Trenton did not participate in VLAC, students wanting to register for it would be directed to sign up through another school district, therefore allowing state funding to be lost to another district.
“If we have a homeschooled student right now, we have to provide those three things. Right now there’s no money that comes into the district (for homeschooled students),” Leapley said. “If we do participate in this program, we do get money coming into this district. If we don’t participate in the program, Oakland County is going to tell the kids to go to a schools of choice district anyways.”