Is virtual education the answer to school budget cuts?

Virtual instruction might provide school districts with a way to save money during the poor economy, reports Channel 10 News of Tampa Bay, Fla. During a special legislative session in Tallahassee this week, State Sen. Stephen Wise from Jacksonville is pushing for school districts to take advantage of the state’s virtual education program. Wise proposed and helped pass a bill last year expanding the state’s program to all students, including elementary school kids. "Virtual education is the wave of the future," says Wise. He also adds it’s one more way school districts can save money: Private companies offer state-certified online curriculum at less than half the cost. "The course is $3,000, [and] school districts get on average $7,000 [to teach a child each year]," he says. "They keep the extra $4,000. They can use that for music programs other programs they need."
Hillsborough school officials say virtual education might help save districts some money. But Hillsborough’s chief information and technology officer, David Steele, says the savings won’t be as much as legislators think: "Other costs, like transportation, may not be [eliminated], because the bus is still going by the child’s house. One would have to break the savings down case by case."

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