a nonacademic setting but still within the school," he said, noting that this concept is especially important for youngsters, and that extracurricular activities can be supplemented in other ways.

Gillis said in the K12 programs, teachers organize monthly outings for their students (each class is grouped by local area), but any CAVA student can go on the outings.

In contrast to Florida, where the Legislature has driven statewide initiatives, California virtual schools are governed by the state's charter school laws, which require that schools have a local educational agency (LEA) sponsor the program. Any virtual school in California, by law, can only enroll students from the county in which it operates, or from contiguous counties.

Though CAVA does not operate in all counties, Gillis said the network of schools affords students some of the benefits a statewide program offers, such as going on CAVA outings that have been organized in another part of the state, and enjoying uninterrupted schooling if a student moves to another CAVA county.

Other California counties and districts have implemented their own programs, including some that serve high-school students and some run by the LEAs themselves, as opposed to a private entity.

Of the many ways to deliver online education, the best approach is still up in the air, said Griffith.

"It's still in its infancy," he said. "States are trying to wrestle with this. We'll see what works and what doesn't. Hopefully each of those models will take the best aspect from each other and learn from each other's mistakes as well."

Griffith said states not only need to settle the issues currently brought by the expanding educational boundaries, but they must plan for future possibilities as well. NASBE's Public Policy Positions urge states to form relationships with one another to further the possibilities afforded by online education, and Griffith said it's only a matter of time until states will need to consider such possibilities. "The Internet is bringing states and countries closer together, making these geographic artificial boundaries obsolete."

Online schools are an indicator of education's path for the future, a logical next step in a society where, thanks to the Internet and technology, we expect more conveniences, he said.

"It's no longer, the store [closes] at 5:00, and you have to fit to the store's hours, not have the store fit to your hours," said Griffith, adding that virtual schooling has brought about a more individualized way of learning. "Much more student-centered, based on students' time, learning ability and that sort of thing, as opposed to being more of a one-size-fits-all model we've got now.

"In the long run," he continued, "it's a pretty radical change from the way schools have been operating in this country for 150 years."

And with such a radical change, he said, there is some level of tolerance for the growing pains states and schools must endure to get the programs running smoothly.

"You certainly don't want to impede people from trying different things, experimenting or pioneering, but at the same time, it's maturing, evolving and developing in some areas," he said. "You need to make sure that if it's going to be offered and students are taking advantage of it, that you get back to making sure it's equitable, it's working for students, they're getting something out of it, and it's available to as many as possible."

Emily Montandon  |  Staff Writer/Copy Editor