Legislature's cutting of Florida Virtual School penny-wise, pound-foolish
The evidence is in: Virtual schools that serve K-12 students save money and increase learning opportunities.
Unfortunately, the nearsighted Florida Legislature still lacks a clear vision for online education. Lawmakers slashed $21 million from the operating budget of the Florida Virtual School — the nation’s largest virtual school, based in Orlando — during the 2009 session.
At a time when school districts throughout the state are cutting their budgets and laying off employees — in effect, eroding educational opportunities — the Legislature should be expanding, not reducing, students’ access to virtual learning, which provides opportunities local districts often cannot.
At the very least, cost-conscious lawmakers should recognize the potential of virtual schooling to save money.
Researchers at the University of Florida’s College of Education surveyed 20 virtual schools in 14 states, comparing the cost of full-time online learning with regular schools. Here’s what they found:
The average yearly cost of online learning per full-time student was about $4,300 compared with the national average of $9,100 for a traditional public school.