Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Education

Florida public online school gets small budget increase

TALLAHASSEE — School districts, teachers and parents are celebrating the $1 billion addition to the state's education budget.

But not everyone is happy with their slice of the pie.

Florida Virtual School, the state's public online school, says it will actually come up about $26 million short due to a proposed change in the state's education finance formula.

FLVS was expecting to see its $200 million budget increased by $35 million next year to cover the cost of 80,000 new enrollments, CEO Julie Young said. But the increase will be closer to $9 million.

That's because under the new formula, online providers will receive fewer dollars for every part-time student they enroll. As a result, FLVS will have to increase its teacher-to-student ratio and eliminate part-time graders and curriculum specialists, Young said.

"We like to say that FLVS is a place where every student has a front-row seat," Young said. "But with a budget cut this steep, teachers will have less time with individual students."

Florida Virtual School offers more than 120 online courses to about 130,000 students. Students can enroll full time, or take one or more classes in addition to their coursework at a bricks-and-mortar school.

If the funding formula is changed, Young said, the school might also have to scale back on its elective offerings and slow the development of new courses such as social networking.

The change would also hurt school districts, which would take in less money for students enrolled in one or more virtual classes.

Young, the virtual school CEO, said the change is already discouraging school systems from enrolling students in virtual classes.

This past month, guidance counselors statewide blocked students from enrolling in 8,881 virtual courses, according to data provided by FLVS. The figure is almost double what it was last April.

State lawmakers have repeatedly rejected claims that the budget will hurt virtual education. They say the changes to the education funding formula are necessary to level the playing field between traditional schools and the Florida Virtual School.

"It's not hurting the program if there is some inequity in a program and that inequity is corrected," said Senate Education Appropriations Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

Rep. Erik Fresen, Galvano's counterpart in the House, pointed to the fact lawmakers did not cut per-student funding for full-time virtual students. He also noted that Florida Virtual was still getting more money than last year.

"That's not a reduction," the Miami Republican said. "It's just not as much as they were expecting."

Comments
9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

9 face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge

TALLAHASSEE — The death of a fraternity pledge from alcohol poisoning has led to hazing charges against nine Florida State University students.State attorney Jack Campbell filed charges on Wednesday in Leon County Court.All nine will be charged with ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

From the archive: USF St. Petersburg’s long journey to autonomy

As the Florida Legislature considers undoing the current governance of the University of South Florida by folding the three branches of its system into one entity, here is a look at some Times coverage of the long-running struggle for independence at...
Updated: 12 hours ago
How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

How a small campus grew into an independent USF St. Petersburg

Just a satellite campus many decades ago, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg has managed to carve out considerable autonomy within the arms of the USF System. But a bill moving through the state House of Representatives could undo its sep...
Published: 01/17/18
A closer look at graduation rates. How did your school do?

A closer look at graduation rates. How did your school do?

Published: 01/17/18
Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

Young Pasco teacher faces cancer with support of students

NEW PORT RICHEY — At age 28, things were really shaping up for Joel Santos-Gonzalez. Fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, he had just completed his third year at Gulf Middle School."I always liked to talk to people on an intellectual...
Published: 01/17/18
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

TAMPA — Members of the Hillsborough County School Board reacted with outrage, mild concern or, in some cases, not at all to a Tampa Bay Times report on misconduct by contracted substitute teachers.Responding to the Times article published Sunday, mem...
Updated: 7 hours ago
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Published: 01/16/18
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco class notes for Jan. 19

Theatre/Art/MusicCenter for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (727) 774-7382.• The center’s Learn it Live! series presents The Three Little Pigs, at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24- 25. Pre-K – grade 4. Public show at 11 a.m. Jan. ...
Published: 01/16/18
Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Nearly a decade since the luster on Florida’s signature merit scholarship program began to grow dim, state lawmakers have taken a decisive step toward restoring its appeal. Just three days into the 2018 Legislative session, the Florida Senate ...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18