PPS Goes Virtual

File this under the old slogan "if you can’t beat them, join them". The Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) has announced plans to open an online academy aimed at attracting students in the District that have opted to enroll at a cyber charter school. It could also position itself as an option for students in PPS schools that want an online option, or perhaps those attending a brick and mortar charter school.

When it first gets up and running it will be open to grades 6-9, but the hope is that there will be enough interest to expand it to grades up to twelfth. According to District financials enrollment from FY02-FY10 fell 23% in PPS schools but increased 225% for charter and cyber-charter schools. A press release from the District notes that about 800 "potential PPS students" attended cyber charter schools.

Placed in possibly an interesting middle ground in this proposal is the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the regional service unit that covers the 42 suburban districts in Allegheny County (not the Pittsburgh Public Schools, which has its own unit). The AIU has an online cyber charter school that may have students from PPS currently enrolled: it also writes a curriculum for cyber education that it offers to districts. According to printed reports, that curriculum will be offered to the PPS for at least two years before the District intends to offer its own teachers and instruction model.