Does Oklahoma's educational landscape have room for more virtual charter schools? That's a question the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board — the only entity under state law that can authorize such schools — will be considering after hearing proposals from two new virtual school applicants.

The board met Tuesday and listened to presentations from Virtual Preparatory Academy of Oklahoma and Scissortail Preparatory Academy. Both want to open in Oklahoma but need the board's approval.

Oklahoma has six statewide online schools with a combined 29,000 students that fall under the board's purview. Enrollment is down 32% following an influx of students in 2020 during the pandemic.

Only one virtual charter school grew this year, the newest: Oklahoma Information & Technology School.

The school is part of Dove Charter Schools, which has operated brick-and-mortar schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa for more than 20 years. There's an advertisement for the virtual school on the marquee outside of Dove in Oklahoma City at the busy intersection of Interstates 35 and 240. And they've been sending mailers to prospective students.

Despite all that, in its inaugural year — 2020-21 — with students flocking to virtual schools amid the pandemic, just 25 students chose to attend. This year, the school grew to 64.

Which is why the new proposed schools' enrollment estimates are surprising.

A critical part of a new charter school proposal is its budget. Because schools are funded per student, the estimated enrollment determines its expected revenue.

Virtual Preparatory Academy of Oklahoma presented a plan Tuesday based on enrolling 500 students in its first year. Scissortail Preparatory Academy estimated it will start with 1,200 students.

Board Chairman Robert Franklin questioned how Scissortail came up with its projection. And the presenter, attorney and former state Rep. John Paul Jordan, wasn't sure.

Franklin said “Choice is really important to me. I just want to do it realistically.”

Thoughts? Story ideas? Suggestions? Please reach out via email or on Twitter.

— Jennifer Palmer

  • Education policy is expected to be big this year, and the Senate education committee got right to business this week, considering a number of proposals. [News 9]
  • Epic Charter Schools has suggested merging its two branches into one school district overseen by one entity. [The Oklahoman]
  • A Virginia student was appointed “class nurse” by her teacher. She died of COVID-19. Her parents want answers. [Washington Post]
  • In one Texas county, complaints about two books from the children's section of the library sparked a yearslong political battle. [ProPublica/Texas Tribune]

Help Us Make a Difference

Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Epic Text Books. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.

Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.