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An in-depth look by I-News - a Colorado-based nonprofit investigative news collaborative, Education News Colorado, and KUNC at the state’s online K-12 schools. Topics include: online K-12 school performance, state- and district-level oversight, and for-profit Education Management Organizations, such as K12 Inc.

Online K-12 School Audit Request Fails

Colorado State Senate
Brandon Shaffer currently serves as the President of the Colorado Senate. He represents Senate District 17, which includes Longmont, Erie, Lafayette and Louisville.

A request from Democratic Senate President Brandon Shaffer to audit the state’s online K-12 schools has failed to move forward. Members of the Legislative Audit Committee today voted 4 to 4 along party lines to kill the request.

Senator Shaffer proposed the in-depth study after recent media reports raised questions about poor student performance and millions earned by for-profit companies running online schools. Like other Republicans on the committee, Senator Scott Renfroe asked whether a “targeted” examination of one educational area was the best use of limited state resources.

 “Let’s look at the big picture of this and truly audit something that will be useful instead of something that will be used as a political wedge on one form of education,” he said.

About two percent of all public school students in Colorado were enrolled in online K-12 schools last year. Democratic State Senator Lucia Guzman said despite the small number, the quality of education for online students is still key.

“Even though it’s two percent, I think it’s an important part of our student population,” she said.

Senator Shaffer, who did not attend the meeting, released a statement following the vote saying he was “disappointed” – adding that Republicans blocked an audit that would have saved Colorado taxpayers millions of dollars. He said he plans to introduce legislation on the topic during the 2012 legislative session.

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