Pittsburgh Public schools to switch vendors for Online Academy

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Officials of Pittsburgh Public Schools are planning to switch vendors for its Pittsburgh Online Academy, which opened last fall.

The school, which was started to attract students away from cyber charter schools, hired Waterfront Learning from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for the first year.

Now staff has recommended switching to VLN Partners, located on the South Side. The board reviewed the proposal at its agenda review meeting and is scheduled to vote June 26. The cost will be $5,000 per student, including curriculum, hardware and teachers.

Jerri Lynn Lippert, chief academic officer, said VLN is better suited to customize the program and can enable the district to offer synchronous classes -- in which the student and teacher are live together -- rather than just asynchronous classes. The principal also will be able to have direct contact with VLN teachers.

The school served grades 6-12 in 2012-13. Grades 4 and 5 are to be added this fall.

April figures showed that the school had had 144 students, but only 47 were still enrolled, including 17 of the original 55.

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Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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