Georgia raises virtual student funding levels
For the second time in a week, we are thrilled to see a state working to create more educational options for its students. First let’s take a quick look at some background; for more details please see the Georgia state profile in Keeping Pace 2010. Georgia has a few full-time online options for its students, but has struggled with extremely low funding levels for its virtual learners. This summer, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission approved two online programs to open in fall 2010: Kaplan Academy of Georgia to serve students in grade 4-12, and the Provost Academy Georgia high school. However, the Commission set state funding at $3500 per pupil less a 3% administrative fee. As a direct result of the low funding, both schools announced they could not afford to open.
After outcries from Georgia parents and much debate in the media, the Commission agreed to revisit its decision. On Thursday, it approved an 80% increase in funding to $5800 per student. In addition, it approved Connections Academy to open its first school for K-12 Georgia students in fall 2011. It is expected that Kaplan and Provost will open next fall as well.
We continue to argue about funding levels for online education, with folks outside the field assuming it should cost less because there isn’t a building with classrooms to fund, and folks on the inside arguing that content development and maintenance, learning management systems, and additional professional development more than equate to on-ground school costs. While we are glad to see that the students benefit in this round, what can we do to be better prepared for this argument in the future?