After the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow's sponsor unanimously voted to shut it down Thursday night, school districts around Ohio are preparing to take in thousands of students affected by the closure.
Columbus City Schools estimates about 1,200 ECOT students may be eligible to enter its school district.
“Starting today, Friday, we have already begun sending information through the mail and by phone to ECOT families that are here in Columbus to let them know what their options are,” says Columbus City Schools spokesperson Scott Varner.
ECOT, the state's largest online charter school, claims to enroll 12,000 students, 2,287 of whom are scheduled to graduate this year.
According to Varner, next week the Central Enrollment Center will have special evening and weekend hours to gives ECOT families a chance to come enroll.
“Those students had they not chosen to attend a charter school or ECOT would be part of the Columbus City Schools system,” Varner says. “They are our students that we want to see in our classrooms.”
Varner is unsure how many students will enroll. About two-thirds of eligible students have never attended Columbus City Schools in the past.
The publicly funded e-school has been running out of money amid a legal dispute with the state over $60 million in funding. The state is clawing back the money after ECOT could not prove how much time students spent online. After losing several court challenges, ECOT's lawsuit against Ohio is now in front of the state Supreme Court.