ANNAPOLIS, MD – Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R-Harford and Baltimore County) has introduced HB 1170, Primary and Secondary Education – Virtual Schools, a bill that will provide Maryland families with access to a tuition-free, full-time online public school option for their children.
“I fully recognize and support our national and statewide focus on safely returning to in-person learning as soon as it’s possible,” said Szeliga, who serves as the House Minority Whip. “But by watching schools and students throughout the state valiantly work to deliver and receive K-12 distance learning over the last year, I’ve also realized the many potential benefits that an intentionally-designed full-time virtual public school can offer. Some students have thrived in the virtual learning environment and would like to continue.”
The bill will authorize the State Department of Education, a county board of education, or a public institution of higher education to establish a statewide virtual school. Students may enroll in any virtual school in the state, regardless of where they live.
Delegate Szeliga, a former teacher with a degree in elementary education from Towson University, explained, the option can provide the safety, accessibility, flexibility, or unique learning opportunities that their district’s brick-and-mortar public school may lack. Students in a full-time virtual school can develop many of the qualities and skills that are essential for success in the post-K-12 world, for example accountability and tech-savviness. She also pointed to multiple surveys showing growing interest in the option as an additional boost for the legislation.
“I know that full-time online public school isn’t for everyone, but I also know that it’s the right fit for a growing number of families,” said Szeliga. “Now is the time to enable Maryland’s public schools to give students the option to thrive in virtual learning.”
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on H.B. 1170 on March 3, 2021.
Further details and the full text of the bill are available here.