Why spend so much money in today’s economy?

  • Florida has long been racking up savings through its year-round Florida Virtual School (FLVS), often cited as a model of efficiency.
  • Based in Orlando, it serves everyone from home-schoolers to traditional school students who need an extra course for catch-up or enrichment.
  • The state treats it as a school district of sorts, but funds it at a significant savings over its bricks-and-mortar counterparts.
  • The state doesn’t have to pay for busing, food, or building maintenance for this “district.”
  • Its per-pupil costs are lower as well. About 54,000 Florida students completed a total of 116,000 semester-long courses through FLVS in 2007-08. That translates into just over 9,600 “full-time equivalent” students – and for each of those the state saves about $1,000, according to a study by the nonprofit group Florida TaxWatch.
  • Schools save indirectly, too, because of this option. A small group of students might be able to take Latin or an advanced biology course through FLVS, for instance, rather than their school having to hire teachers with those specialties.
  • And every time a student is promoted to the next grade because they pass a class through FLVS that they failed in the regular classroom, a year’s worth of costs are saved on that student.
  • The school gets state dollars not for every student who enrolls, but only for those who complete their course with at least a D.
  • “When it works at its best, [online learning] is outcome-based rather than based on seat time…. That’s a huge change from the factory-model system” of most schools, says Michael Horn, coauthor of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.” While many schools add computers into standard classroom practice and only marginally improve the status quo, the “anytime, anywhere” approach of online learning better taps into the technology’s potential, he adds