During the "Students Come First" school technology task force meeting today, a new wrinkle emerged as far as the impact on school district finances of the new focus on online education. In response to a request from the Boise School District's business manager about how many times a district will have to fund an online provider if the student doesn't pass the course, state Department of Education official Jason Hancock said, "Essentially, right now, if a student is in a brick-and-mortar situation and they take a course and fail it, we still fund the district." He said the full payment districts will be required to make to online course providers - two-thirds of the "average daily attendance" funding the district receives from the state for that student for a class period - will be divided into two parts, with the first part to be paid to the provider on the student's enrollment in the online class, and the second only upon the student's successful completion of the class.
If a student failed, the first payment would have to be repeated if the student took the class again (it wouldn't be refunded), and there's no limit on retries. Hancock said, "Through putting together statewide contracts with these online course providers, we can actually build into the contract certain performance criteria, so that if students are being unsuccessful in these courses, if these are not high-quality courses and an excessive number of students are failing the course, we can terminate the contract." However, the reform plan also allows students or parents to choose courses from any approved provider, not just those in the state contracts, and trigger payments from their school district.