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Pasco charter school expects growth in coming year

The head of Florida Virtual Academy in Pasco County says she's not concerned about the charter school's low enrollment.

Its 57-student population was not the result of lacking interest, Patty Betoni told the Gradebook, but rather of a lack of time to generate interest.

"We weren't approved until Aug. 6 ... and school started 13 days later," Betoni said. "That was the biggest challenge, getting the word out and letting folks know this was available. I fully expect enrollment to double for next year."

She added that the school had a contingency financial plan in place to deal with student counts as low as 50. Hiring occurred on a part-time basis, with full-time employment coinciding with enrollment gains.

"FLVA @ Pasco provides students an innovative and personalized learning program and offers Pasco County families a high quality public school option," Betoni wrote in an e-mail. "Our teachers and school staff are excited about finishing a great first year and look forward to carrying our progress into next school year."

School district officials have harbored concerns about the virtual charter school and did not want to approve it. They suggested the poor student numbers could spell trouble for the school.

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