We breathed a sigh of relief on Monday at the news that the November scholarship payments of McKay Scholarship students enrolled in Florida Virtual School courses were not going to be debited for those courses students are currently enrolled in. The matter, however, has not been resolved.
The Legislature adopted a new methodology for reporting and funding full-time equivalent students and the state amount has been reallocated to cover any FLVS courses taken by public school students or students who are funded through Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). The Florida Department of Education has interpreted this to mean that since the McKay Scholarships are paid out of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) funds like public school students, then the individual parents/students on McKay Scholarships will be assessed for these courses and the payments will be deducted from their scholarship payments.
Even though the scholarships won’t be prorated this November payment period, the indication is that cost of current and future FLVS courses will be deducted from future McKay Scholarship payments.
It is true that the McKay Scholarship amounts are derived from the FEFP funds. However, past information reported by Florida DOE indicates that 10% of the FEFP funding for each student who qualifies for the McKay Scholarship is retained by the district.
Let’s look at the figures (using 2012-2013 figures from FLDOE):
24,954 students enrolled on McKay with IEP –
Average scholarship $7019
10% of FTE left in school district $779 per child
Total left in the school district = $23,334,166
1,654 students enrolled on McKay with 504 Plan
Average scholarship $3,977
10% of FTE left in school district $441 per child
Total left in the school district = $729,414
McKay Students Leave $ 24,063,580
(+ $24 million) of their FEFP dollars in the districts.
Currently, only 790 McKay Scholarship students are enrolled in FLVS classes. If a student takes 2 semester courses (1 credit hour) the cost for that one credit is approximately $743. Using this figure then the total cost of the courses taken by McKay students total $586,970.00.
Shouldn’t this $586,970 in costs be taken out of the $24,000,000 of FEFP funds the Districts retain of our disabled students’ money?
We understand there will be a meeting this Friday at FLDOE to discuss this issue. Activate your parents to contact their legislators before Friday and have the legislators direct FLDOE to stop this unfair assessment of our parents and students. (Go to www.myfloridahouse.gov or www.flsenate.gov find contact info for legislators.)
Our questions to our Legislators need to be:
1) Why aren’t the FEFP funds left at the districts by the McKay students being used to fund any FLVS courses taken by the McKay Scholarship students?
2) Why are individual parents of children with disabilities going to be assessed in this way when no other individual parent or child taking FLVS classes (homeschooled students, private school student not on McKay Scholarships, or students on the Corporate Tax Scholarship) will be assessed like this?
3) Was this really what the Legislature intended when they changed this statute – hurting the parents of kids with disabilities? (Note that the McKay Scholarship is not mentioned in the statute, this is a FLDOE interpretation)
Legislators may contact Adam Miller, Executive Director of the Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice, for more information concerning this issue. (850) 245-0502
Report prepared by
The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools