FAMILY A TRAILBLAZER IN VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL

Date: 2005-09-25

Excerpt

FAMILY A TRAILBLAZER IN VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL THEY LIVE IN SUN PRAIRIE, BUT THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL IS A PUBLIC SCHOOL THAT'S PART OF THE APPLETON AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT.(FRONT)
Article from:The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) Article date:September 25, 2005Byline: SANDY CULLEN scullen@madison.com 608-252-6137

SUN PRAIRIE -- Jaime, Tori and Hope Leonard wake up at 6:30 a.m. and by 7:30, they are neatly dressed and -- virtually -- in school.

Like children who are home-schooled, the sisters don't have to leave their house. Jaime and Tori, both 9, used their penchant for room makeovers to transform 7-year-old Hope's former bedroom into a cozy classroom with pink carpet, an alphabet border and a globe suspended from the center of the ceiling.

Their desks are topped with color-coordinated school supplies: Hope's are yellow, Tori's purple and Jaime's blue.

They even have a "school pet," a small but spirited Yorkiepoo named Joey because "she bounces around like a kangaroo," said Sharon Leonard, who with husband Reed adopted their three daughters from China.

But unlike home-schooled children, the Leonards are actually enrolled in a public school -- a virtual charter school that is part of the Appleton Area School District about 100 miles away.

20,000 students

Their mother spends four to five hours a day guiding her daughters through daily lesson plans, drawn primarily from curriculum developed over the past century at the Calvert School, a private "bricks-and-mortar" school in Baltimore, where tuition ranges from $14,000 to $17,000 a year for its 500 on-site students.

Home-schoolers can buy Calvert's curriculum and support services at prices ranging from $245 for pre-kindergarten to $760 for eighth-grade.

But because her children are enrolled in Wisconsin Connections Academy, Leonard pays nothing. State taxpayers provide about $5,745 to …

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