“…this is seemingly starting to be a big deal in OK, but flying under the radar.
• 10-15 years ago Oklahoma passed a law allowing online-only charter schools with a separate regulatory structure from physical charter schools.
• Critically, the unions did not think to push for an enrollment cap.
• There are 5-10 schools, all quite small, except for one named EPIC.
• Has enrollment (~38,000) that is larger than any district in the state. This enrollment is currently surging faster than its usual high growth because of COVID-19 and could reach 46,000 by the Oct 1 “Money Head Count” deadline.
• From Oct 1, 2018 to Oct 1, 2019, EPIC’s enrollment grew more than the enrollment growth for the entire state of OK.
• Like all public charters in OK, the school is free to attend. Parents get paid $1000 per student per year for school supplies and activities.
• They have 100% online and blended learning options. Teachers in the online-only are paid by how many students they take on and can earn over $100,000. The state average pay for teachers is just over $50,000/yr.
• They are a non-profit but they are run by a closely related for-profit management company that is paid 10% of gross revenue. (Incentives!)
• Everyone in OK education that isn’t EPIC, hates EPIC. The state has multiple lawsuits and audits alleging that they have been committing fraud. These go back as far as 2012 but none have yet been resolved, even with open investigations by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The alleged amounts are less than 1% of cumulative revenue.
Comparison to Regular Schools: