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Growth of online schools sparks funding debate

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 27 2013 2:48 p.m. MDT

In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo, Larissa Bukowski, right, checks messages as her son David, 6, works on an online lesson in their home in Akron, Ohio. Both David and sister Helen attend school online through Ohio Connections Academy.

Mark Duncan, Associated Press

WORTHINGTON, Ohio — Ohio Connections Academy doesn't feel like a typical public school. Its teacher work from closely spaced cubicles, not classrooms, and there are no playgrounds, cafeterias or students.

Connections is an e-school, an online learning center whose students connect from home computers around the state.

The educational option is exploding in popularity in Ohio and around the country. That has divided policymakers over what proportion of public education dollars should go to schools without walls.

Critics say Ohio's funding formula steers too much toward e-schools, given their uneven academic record and low teacher salaries.

Advocates say the schools have substantial but different costs, such as postage and technology.

Connections parent Larissa Bukowski (buh-KOW'-skee) says the school offers flexibility to her 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son and they have thrived.

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