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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Enrollment at Hernando eSchool on pace to double



BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District’s virtual school, Hernando eSchool, is on pace to nearly double its enrollment for the 2013-14 school year, according to principal Debra Harris.

The virtual school, beginning its fourth year, so far has students enrolled roughly 1,700 semester-long courses, Harris said. For the entire 2012-13 school year, students took 2,411 courses.

Harris expects to see upward of 4,000 completed courses this year.

“We’re very, very pleased that we are busy,” she said.

The announcement comes after news of layoffs at Florida Virtual School, which saw enrollment for August and September courses drop 32 percent compared to the previous year.

The likely culprit: new legislation that causes school districts to received less state funding when a student signs up for Florida Virtual School or another outside provider.

“That, beyond any doubt, impacted things,” Harris said.

On average across Florida, she said, districts lose about $480 per semester-long class that students take through Florida Virtual School or an outside provider. In many cases, students will still be taking those online classes at the school, she said, which means the district is responsible for providing computer time, supervision, technology and other services.

But she says there’s also another reason for the increase.

“I believe that we’re doing a better job,” she said. “We know our audience. We know our students. We have a stake in our community.”

She added: “We’re smaller so we try harder.”

The Hernando eSchool has been growing rapidly since it started during the 2010-11 school year.

The first year, the eSchool had  780 course completions. The next year, 2011-12, it had 1,401. For both years, the school only served grades 6 through 12.

For the 2012-13 year, the school added kindergarten through Grade 5. The number of completed courses jumped to 2,411.

[Last modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 10:58am]


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