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Single District Programs

Single district programs are online learning programs run by a school district for students only within their school district. Such programs can be either full-time or supplemental. Frequently such programs are funded in the same manner as any other school or program within the district.

The main policy consideration for this type of program is related to what is required for a student to be counted for state funding. Most state funding formulas for traditional schools are in some way related to seat time. While online learning provides flexibility so that seat time need not be the way attendance is measured, state funding formulas do not always take this into account.

If the student is taking the online course during the regular school day then, in general, there is no funding issue. From the perspective of the funding formula, there most likely is no difference between a student sitting in a classroom taking a traditional classroom and a student present at school (either in a classroom, computer lab, library, etc.) and taking an online course. This scenario is most common with supplemental programs in which the student might be only taking a single online course, but could be implemented for a full-time program as well.

However, if the student is taking the online course away from school, determining the funding for the student may be more complicated. Depending on your state, one of the following may determine the funding:

  • Some states simply don’t allow for time spent away from the school to be counted towards the seat time attendance requirement related to funding. As a result, the online course must be taken at school if it is to count towards funding.
  • In some states, the student must be present at school for a minimum amount of minutes to be counted in the funding formula. If the school day is longer than this minimum number of minutes, the student is free to take the online course away from school.
  • Some states may have alternative mechanisms to determine attendance other than seat time. In such cases, the online course can count towards the funding formula as long as the requirements in the alternative mechanism are met.
  • Some states have passed laws that specifically exempt online students from the seat time requirement related to the school funding formula. These laws will typically specify certain requirements to make sure the student’s online course is equivalent to a traditional course in order for the student to be counted in the state funding formula.

In some cases, a single-district program will be a district charter school. In almost all cases, such programs are full-time programs. The funding of charter schools is normally subject to different regulations than other district schools. In some states, funding regulations will also differ between virtual charter schools and traditional charter schools.