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Compromise reached in virtual school legislation

A compromise to keep Wisconsin's virtual schools online could be approved by the full Legislature in early March.

Elizabeth Burmaster, state superintendent, says she'll recommend that the governor sign it.

The state's 12 virtual schools, which teach 3,500 students, were threatened last month when an appeals court said they're not entitled to state aid.

Lawmakers then came up with two vastly different bills to keep those schools going.

Thursday they announced a compromise in which current state aid levels would continue.

And for the first time there would be exact standards for those schools.

They would require the same hours of instruction as traditional classes. Only licensed teachers could develop lesson plans and grade assignments.

Truancy records would be kept. Records would be public to assure accountability.

Teachers must respond to online questions within 24 hours.

The state would run an academy to help other Wisconsin districts start their own virtual schools.

The state's largest teachers' union which went to court to try and close the online schools has not said if it will try to kill the new compromise.

Legislative committees will take it up next week.