Area districts ready should ECOT end operations


In October, the Electronic School of Tomorrow (ECOT) announced it would close its virtual doors within a few months due to funds it owes the state.
Since then, some schools have been scrambling to get prepared for when the influx of students from the defunct ECOT start flooding into their respective school districts. However, for school districts within Union County, there’s one unanimous answer to that problem.
“We have no concerns,” said Jonathan Langhals, assistant superintendent for the Marysville Exempted Village School District (MEVSD). “If that kind of facility would close, we are well prepared and will welcome the students back with open arms if they choose to enroll with Marysville schools.”
Though it is a concern among other school districts in the country, Langhals’ sentiment was echoed by North Union and Fairbanks school districts.
“We don’t have a lot of students in our area who attend ECOT,” said North Union Superintendent Rich Baird. “It wasn’t a district concern.”
Baird said a personal concern of his involved the question of where the students of ECOT will go to once it ends, but it wasn’t a large concern because of the small number of those enrolled in ECOT. He said the North Union school district, like MEVSD, wouldn’t see a lot of students being enrolled into its schools when ECOT shuts down.
Fairbanks High School principal Tom Montgomery said he doesn’t have a concern about a lot of factors of ECOT’s closing. He said there isn’t a concern about having to accept whatever yield of students would be admitted to the school after ECOT’s closing nor whatever will happen to students if they decide to attend another virtual school instead.
“ECOT’s closing would take an avenue away from students who don’t traditionally learn in a brick and mortar building such as ours,” Montgomery said. “I’m fairly confident most online learners who would leave ECOT will find some other online institution to go to.”
Langhals said the MEVSD could see approximately 29 students incorporated into its schools, though he also expects a portion of those students enrolling into another online school instead.
He said that, if students would be enrolling back into the schools from ECOT, the process would be relatively simple. He said it would involve them communicating with the virtual school to get transcripts and see which credits would transfer over.
He said the district has been looking at the fall of ECOT since the last school year and has been preparing for its potential impact.
“It’s been something we’ve kept an eye on,” he said. “We received updates from the Ohio Department of Education and news stories.”
Langhals said even if parents decide to enroll their children into ECOT or other online schools, it’s no hard feelings to him or MEVSD.
“We support parents having choice,” he said. “We just want kids to be successful and getting a good education, and that should be the goal.”
Langhals said he hopes the situation with ECOT is handled “appropriately” and ethical decisions are taken with the students whenever it shuts down.

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