Virtual charter company spends big money on ads

Here’s another tidbit about K12, Inc., the publicly-traded company trying to open up a virtual charter school in North Carolina.

K12, (NYSE:LRN), the largest virtual education company in the nation, spent $21.5 million in the first eight months of 2012 advertising the online public charter schools it operates in 29 states, according to an article that ran yesterday in USA Today. (My colleague Chris Fitzsimon also made mention of that in his Friday Follies column today).

That’s a decent amount to spend on advertising, especially considering that 85 percent of the company’s revenue comes from public sources. Click here to read more about the ad buys, and how USA Today calculated the estimates.

Lots of ads ran on kid-friendly media outlets, including Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network and MeetMe.com, a social media site used by teens (and tweens).

The company also may be trying to tap into the disaffected youth market – it spent $3,000 to advertise on VampireFreaks.com, which bills itself as “the Web’s largest community for dark alternative culture,” according to the USA Today article.

K12, Inc., is looking to open up virtual charter school in North Carolina, but had its application ignored by the N.C. State Board of Education in February and is now in limbo in the courts.

But the school could get more attention this year, with a legislature that’s been supportive of charter expansion (state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell was also hired to represent the virtual charter school in court) and soon to-be Gov. Pat McCrory voicing support for the school at an April fundraiser in Asheboro.

Remember,  McCrory will be appointing up to six members* of the 13-member N.C. State Board of Education in coming months, and it’s quite possible that the new state board, which gives final say to charter applications, would be more open to the idea of a statewide virtual charter school run by a for-profit company.

Only time will tell.

*(McCrory, a Republican, gets three more seats on the powerful state education board than most governors have in their first term after the Republican-led legislature declined to take up three nominations Democrat Gov. Bev Perdue sent over to the legislature in May 2011, two months after the terms expired. State law requires that the legislature “shall meet in joint session for consideration” of the appointments. You can read a story I wrote about that here.)

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