K12 woos Wyoming to provide virtual homeschool

For-profit company K12 Inc. currently serves 25,000 K-9 students in 13 states. Wyoming tests the waters with pilot programs.

As virtual schools gain popularity among unaffiliated homeschoolers, public schools are offering virtual school programs as well, reports the Casper Star Tribune.

Taxpayers wittingly or unwittingly are increasingly supporting virtual schools, as states sign on to for-profit virtual programs, such as K12 Inc., a popular elementary virtual school based in McLean, Va.

"As long as you have Internet access, you can get online and do it," Suzanne Johnsrud, a mom who homeschools two children.

K12 serves about 25,000 homeschoolers enrolled through schools in 13 different states, plus another 5,000 who use various K12 offerings in the classroom. K12 hopes that Wyoming will become their 14th virtual-school state, although much would still need to be resolved.

"We've got to approach this gradually so all the options are thought out and the kids don't lose out," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride.

K12 would like every state to have a virtual school curriculum. It currently offers coursework through grade 10 and is working on high school curricula.

"We're really just starting high school," says K12 chairman and founder Ron Packard. "And the market in high school is a lot, probably larger on a per-grade basis than in the earlier grades. When you look at those factors, there's no doubt that this will eventually be hundreds of thousands of kids across the U.S."