Florida is reducing state-funded scholarships for private school students with disabilities if they take online courses through Florida Virtual School.
The state Department of Education last week began notifying the 1,200 private schools accepting the McKay Scholarship that quarterly payments for students will be docked starting in February – in some cases, by as much as $800.
Since then, some school operators, such as Donna Savary of Savary Academy in tiny Crawfordville, have pulled McKay students from the FLVS programs to avoid the unexpected costs. They also have warned parents they’ll have to pick up the tab for courses their children already completed.
“We’re not happy,’’ said Savary, whose academy has 16 students of which six receive McKay Scholarships. “The kids are not happy. The parents are really upset.’’
In a letter dated Nov. 8, the department cited the recently-amended education funding formula as cause for the reduction. DOE officials reviewed the new law that went into effect in July and determined last month that it did apply to recipients of the McKay Scholarship because the funding comes from the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).
School districts and Florida Virtual School also are funded by the FEFP, and have been hit with similar cuts when public school students enroll in the online provider’s program.
“If they (DOE) had told me about this in the beginning of the school year, my kids wouldn’t have been in Florida Virtual School at all,’’ said Savary, who told one of her families this week it will owe $800 in February for two courses completed since August. “This is a rural area. Parents here don’t have $800 lying around.’’
The DOE decision means parents of McKay Scholarship students are the only ones in Florida directly assessed for FLVS courses, said Robyn Rennick of The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools. Continue Reading →