In a new twist on the legislative funding changes crimping Florida Virtual School, private schools that accept state-funded McKay Scholarships for special needs students may now lose money when McKay students take FLVS classes.
Private schools learned last week about the possible fallout, which could result in students dropping Florida Virtual School courses or parents paying for what traditionally has been offered for free.
Many of the 1,200 private schools that accept the scholarships, which on average range between $3,977 and $7,019, don’t charge parents more for tuition, said Robyn Rennick of The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools. So they likely will withdraw students from FLVS courses or ask parents to make up the difference.
“Was this really what the Legislature intended when they changed this statute – hurting the parents of kids with disabilities?’’ the coalition asked in a notice to school operators Monday.
Of the roughly 27,000 students who receive McKay Scholarships, 790 are enrolled in FLVS classes. At many of the high schools that accept the scholarships, students are taking driver’s education and health courses offered by FLVS, Rennick said.
FLVS officials, who have watched enrollment plummet since the funding change, said they’ve already heard from private school administrators who say the proposed cuts will cause financial hardships and lead to withdrawal of students currently enrolled in FLVS.
“This is yet another unintended consequence of the new funding model – denied choice for children with disabilities working hard to get the best education they can possibly get,’’ Florida Virtual School spokeswoman Tania Clow said.
Department of Education officials plan to discuss the issue Friday morning during a regularly scheduled internal meeting. They declined comment Thursday.