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Online Options Expanding For Michigan Students

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Starting in January, Michigan’s public school students will get more choices in deciding how and where they want to take classes.

Public school students in grades 5-12 will be able to take up to two online courses per semester offered by Michigan districts or the state’s virtual school. A statewide catalog of online classes maintained by the Michigan Virtual University is being assembled this month.

Students need permission from their parents to sign up for classes, but they no longer need approval from their home school district, which has to pay providers for the courses.

Jamey Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of the state-created nonprofit Michigan Virtual University, said each district must decide whether the changes are an opportunity or a threat to local school budgets.

“They now have the ability to take their fine teaching staff and their expertise and serve kids in every ZIP code in the state,” Fitzpatrick told The Detroit News. “The world is changing at a pretty rapid pace. All you have to do is talk to a 16-year-old. We are not really pushing the envelope – it’s 2013.”

For each course a student takes, their school district pays 1/12th of the state’s per-pupil allowance for a semester to the district offering the course or MVU. For example, using the state’s allowance of $7,076 for this school year, a semester course would cost $589.

The changes in Michigan school law approved in 2012 could expand virtual learning in Michigan, officials said. The classes are seen as a way to offer more flexibility for students, and the law requires that courses be taught by Michigan-certified teachers.

Vanasia Bradley, a competitive gymnast, takes two core courses from Michigan Virtual University as part of her curriculum at Canton High School in suburban Detroit, where she’s a freshman. For her, the online classes allow her to accommodate training and competition.

“With her travel for competition and then she trains for 30 hours a week – that’s where the online courses come in handy,” said her mother, Sherry Bradley.

For more information on Michigan Virtual University, visit www.mivu.org.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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