District Responds to ECOT Closure

January 29, 2018 - Students throughout Ohio were left in academic limbo after the online charter school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow – ECOT – lost its sponsorship a little over a week ago and abruptly shut down. Affecting 40 Sidney students, the Sidney City School District’s administration has been reaching out to families to help them find a place for their child to finish out the school year – back in the classroom or online.  


“We have approximately 40 students who, as a result of ECOT shutting down, are scrambling to find suitable education options,” Superintendent John Scheu said on Friday. “Our administration is working quickly with these families to make sure the lapse in education is minimal.”


Prior to ECOT closing, principals from various Sidney City Schools buildings reached out to families via home visits to share options with families.


“Sidney City Schools has a variety of educational options available to those students affected by the abrupt closing of ECOT,” said Tom Clark, SCOLA Coordinator with the Midwest Regional ESC who works in conjunction with Sidney City Schools. “Both online and brick and mortar school can be arranged for students in all grades.”


“We certainly welcome any of these students back into our buildings but understand that brick and mortar education is not for everyone,” said Sidney Curriculum Director Brook Gessler. “For those former ECOT students who want to continue online learning, we offer SCOLA and SVLA.”


Shelby County Online Learning Academy, SCOLA, is an online learning curriculum in which the computer is the instructor. SCOLA creates a partnership between the student, parent and school educators. This program also provides flexible scheduling to customize a student’s learning environment to better meet individual needs. Class work may be completed at home using the online instructional courses provided by SCOLA. The curriculum for these classes is created by PLATO. The expectation with SCOLA is that the family provides the technology required to log in to the online courses.


“SCOLA is perfect for students who do not require direct instruction,” said Clark, who provides supervisorial support to those enrolled in SCOLA


Sidney Virtual Learning Academy (SVLA), another online option, provides more direct instruction for those who require it, with an online remote instructor. 


“SVLA is literally a cyber school in a box,” said Gessler, “with the technology and textbooks provided.”  


Both online programs have an established history with Sidney City Schools.


The benefit of enrolling in either of these programs is that they allow the student to remain a Sidney City Schools student, therefore making them eligible for extracurricular activities including band, choir, orchestra, clubs, and sports. Students who were enrolled at ECOT and those currently enrolled in other online schools such as Ohio Virtual Academy or Ohio Connections Academy are not recognized as Sidney City Schools students and therefore aren’t eligible to take part in school activities. Additionally, students enrolled in SVLA or SCOLA, as long as they are Sidney students, may also opt to take courses during the regular school day. 


Another option outside of traditional day school is the Opportunity School, sponsored by the Midwest Regional ESC. This educational option typically serves those students who don’t fit the traditional day school model due to family commitments, working during the day, etc. Opportunity School provides a combination of online and direct instruction. The goal of Opportunity School is to get students to meet their academic requirements and graduate. 


“The goal of SCOLA, SVLA, and Opportunity School is to provide the most successful learning environment and methods for each individual student to achieve academic success,” said Scheu.


“As a result of meeting with these families, it is our hope they choose to place their children in one of the options which have a direct relationship with Sidney City Schools,” said Gessler. “We are always appreciative of every opportunity we have to educate the youth in our community.” 


At least five students have chosen to re-enroll in the traditional brick and mortar education system within Sidney City Schools; 14 are moving to SCOLA; one is looking at SVLA and another is looking at Opportunity School; while several more are pending.


“We have many options available outside of the traditional day school model. We hope to welcome many of displaced former ECOT students back to Sidney City Schools online or in the classroom,” concluded Scheu. 


Those interested in learning more about SCOLA, SVLA or Opportunity School may contact Tom Clark at by emailing tom.clark@sidneycityschools.org or calling 937-494-2001 ext. 1154, or Brooke Gessler by emailing brooke.gessler@sidneycityschools.org or calling 937-497-2210.

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