Hard times cut state cyber-school enrollments

Pennsylvania’s 11 cyber charter schools are the latest victims of the recession, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Facing the threat of layoffs or mortgage foreclosures, some parents are sending their children back to brick-and-mortar public schools because a stay-at-home spouse had to get a job. "It’s another symptom of the economy," said Sarah McCluan, spokeswoman for Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which operates PA Learners Online Regional Cyber Charter School, based in Homestead. "Our younger grades are most affected, because what we are hearing from parents is that they have to go back to work part or full time because of the economy." Most Pennsylvania cyber charter schools require a parent to stay home and supervise an elementary-age child, serving in many cases as an academic coach. Joe Lyons, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School in Norristown, the state’s second-largest cyber charter school, said a decrease in enrollment is typical during winter months, when some students decide charter schools aren’t for them, they miss their friends, or they aren’t performing well. But this year, he said, even more students are returning to traditional public schools–a trend he heard is being duplicated at other cyber charter schools. "One of the things parents need to understand is that as the academic coach in our model, they are required to be at home to help their child," Lyons said. "They can’t work full time. They can’t have an older child stay home and help."

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