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Waukesha School District Considering Taking Over all Operations of Online School

School district has been having problems with vendor for iQ Academy Wisconsin. The Waukesha School District could make a decision on a contract during its June school board meeting.

Big changes could be coming to the Waukesha School District’s online school – ­iQ Academy Wisconsin  – after the company that provides logistic support for the program was informed by the school district that it was in breach of contract.

Superintendent Todd Gray told the Finance & Facilities Committee that he believed the school district could “go it alone” and take over all operations for the school.

"We are almost doing that on our own," Gray said.

The change would give the school district more flexibility with the program and, with the proposed changes to the open enrollment caps in Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget, could save the school district money.

The changes could allow the school district to adopt additional curriculum for the online school, which started in Waukesha during the 2004-05 school year.

“We would be greatly enhancing our curriculum,” said Rick Nettesheim, director of online learning and principal for the online school.

The problems with K12, Inc., the vendor for iQ Academy Wisconsin include poor marketing and hosting a rival online school, Gray said.

The members of the Finance & Facilities Committee also expressed their frustrations with the promised advertising and marketing support given to the school district by K12. Historically, the school district was told by the company that the company was spending $500,000 a year on marketing. Nettesheim said in recent years the company has been unwilling to share those monetary figures.

“There were all kinds of promises and, lo and behold, our name wasn’t out there,” Nettesheim said.

The school district believes its high quality programs ­– the students placed the highest on standardized test compared to all other online schools in Wisconsin, according to Nettesheim ­– has kept the online school’s attendance steady.

But, the lack of marketing has not escaped the attention of some of the Waukesha School Board members.

“All the advertisements out there were for anybody but iQ Academy,” said Kurt O’Bryan, who chairs the Finance & Facilities Committee.

Monday night’s conversation about the changes to the online school was a discussion only and no action was taken. Nettesheim said after the meeting the discussion could come back to the Finance & Facilities Committee and the Waukesha School Board again in May. The school board could make the decision during its June school board meeting.

And while O’Bryan, who was defeated in the April 5 election, won’t be on the school board anymore, he still made it clear about his thoughts about on the issue. The program will not be sustainable with the current vendor, he said.

“Either we change dramatically or we shut down,” O’Bryan said.

Skirnir Hamilton April 12, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Please keep me informed on this one, as my son is an IQ Academy student and I had not heard anything about this yet. I may have to look into the history as I have heard nothing on how the school district feels about IQ.
Kurt OBryan April 13, 2011 at 02:10 AM
Comment_arrow Delete Kurt OBryan 6:06pm on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 The school district is committed to the future of IQ Academy. The issue is whether they have the right partner for the future or not. The partner has new ownership and the new owners are deemed to be violating the non-compete provisions of the agreement. Unless the new owner (partner) complies fully with the agreement, the district has indicated it will exercise its right to move forward either alone or with a new partner. IQ Academy should have a bright future and the #1 virtual school in Wisconsin.
Miss Elaineous April 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM
I have had students in IQ Academy for 4 years. I have been very pleased with the education my children have received. They will be well prepared for college life in that as high school students, they have had to manage their schedule, get to class on time, ask for help when needed, and work with a pace chart (syllabus). The degree of difficulty is also wonderful. It is NOT easy, but challenging and forces the students to learn AND apply - not just regurgitate facts. The amount of writing required has been higher than any other school I have seen, which I regard as a plus. If a student can learn to communicate well thru the written word, they are going to be way ahead in life. I look forward to continuing my relationship with the Waukesha school district - knowing their commitment to providing high quality education, it won't matter what company they partner with. Thanks, from a grateful parent in Dodgeville
Joe Teberin April 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM
The obvious question for those interested in public education is why not spend the reported $500,000, or even if it was $1 on funding education rather than marketing? If the issue is not enough marketing, then that says dreadful things about the priorities of Waukesha Public School District. Unfortunately they are not alone. This should always be a question when for profit companies engage in schooling. School A has to turn a profit, School B does not, School B can spend every penny on education while School A has their profit margin front and center. Thanks, concerned citizen from waukesha

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