Wednesday, Governor Jay Nixon announced $634 million in cuts to the budget. About $2.3 million will be carved out of the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program. That's half the money in MoVIP's budget, which means the cyber school will get nothing from the state next semester.
State-wide, 1600 students are enrolled in the K-12 MoVIP program. Most don't pay tuition because it is state-funded. There are a limited number of "free seats" that students apply for, but starting January, those seats will be eliminated. Only students that pay tuition can continue with on-line courses. Right now that adds up to $325 per course, per semester. Some students take 5 or 6 courses a semester. The cost is based on volume, so if fewer students enroll next semester, the tuition fee will increase.
A mom in Lincoln County emailed us today to tell us about the cuts. She'd just received an email notifying her that she will either have to pay tuition starting in January or send her daughter back to a traditional high school. This, after funding was promised to her family for both semesters.
Her 10th grade daughter (and aspiring professional ballerina) enrolled in MoVIP two years ago because the hours are more flexible and give her time to travel with her dance company, attend hours of dance lessons and rehearsals.
Other students use to program to take advanced placement courses that may not be available at their local high school. Some MoVIP students have medical issues that keep them at home or in the hospital. Still other students simply prefer to work from home, but with certified teachers on-line (as opposed to home schooling which relies on parents for most of the instruction).
MoVIP is a fairly new program. It was created by the legislature in 2007.
Why this program? Lottery funds were expected to generate $290.8 million for education this fiscal year. So far, it appears lotto sales are on track to add up to only $250 million.
Governor Jay Nixon's press secretary, Scott Holste, said the governor cut funding to MoVIP to avoid other cuts in education:
The virtual education program is funded using revenue from lottery proceeds, which have been running short of the amount originally budgeted. Those limited resources from the lottery are being preserved for the foundation formula, which is the primary funding for Missouri's public K-12 schools. Even with the $204 million in restrictions announced Wednesday, there will be no cuts to Missouri classrooms or the foundation formula, which is what the Governor had said.
MoVip, according to Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, employs 46 teachers and a small number of office staff. Layoffs, according to a spokesperson, will likely be announced soon.