Cindy Hamblin, Director, Illinois Virtual School says that in the economic recession IVS has stuck to going forward with a plan to use little if no money from the state to bring their services to the state’s children.
At a recent lunch, she said that the school only received $400,000 or a little more from the state this year to go forward with its development. They did receive an unspecified amount from the feds for launching a professional development program online. Other revenue was drawn from local income, she says.
“We have had to restructure ourselves. We can’t depend on that, and we are streamlining staff, and maybe not doing anything that was in our plan,” Hamblin says. They are also looking at approaching state correctional facilities to deliver some online learning systems to prisoners, and to work with the children left behind by fathers or mothers who are incarcerated.
IVS will deliver services to 875 students starting this next semester after summer. It currently supports 850 for summer classes. Last spring they had over 1,000. Staff at IVS cite an “implementation dip” from transition from an e-College service deliver to their new vendor, D2L, as the reason for a loss of few students.
The most interesting thing about IVS’s curriculum is its blending of the virtual classes with real world project-based activity. Coordinator of Curriculum Jennifer Kolar-Burden told us that several cultural institutions in Chicago are working with the school to give students firsthand experience with theater, natural sciences and other career track verticals.
This year, IVS students will have special hands-on learning experiences at the Shedd Aquarium, and there is even talk of doing a statewide program, or even national, as long as policy allows for access to information and cultural exchanges across government lines.