It came to my attention yesterday morning after a phone conversation with your Director of Educational Choices, Dr. Sonia Esposito, that Osceola County has chosen not to take any action to ensure a virtual school opportunity for the 08/09 school year. While I understand the confusion and hesitation surrounding a new teaching product, I do not feel that this decision is in the spirit of the new virtual school bill that recently passed.
Our right as parents to have an educational choice was stripped from us with no forewarning - myself and many others followed the process in April and May of this year to enroll our children for the upcoming year in our statewide elementary virtual school choices, Florida Connections Academy and Florida Virtual Academy. We made plans for our children and were unprepared, much as you are, for the new virtual school bill and its ramifications. Even today, less than three weeks before the start of school, most of us do not have a concrete answer.
I'm not sure I understand why Osceola County would choose inaction for the 08/09 school year. Families from Celebration, Kissimmee, Poinciana, St Cloud, and everywhere in between with students who were prepared to enter virtual school will be faced with the choice of homeschooling their children or sending them to a traditional public or private school. Most parents I have spoken to will now have to send their children to public school; a few will homeschool.
What benefits can denying a contract with FCA and FVA have for Osceola County? A virtual schooled student is not draining resources such as transportation, administration, janitorial services, or any of the other ancillary expenses that go along with a brick and mortar education. A virtual schooled student has the opportunity to attend an A rated school regardless of their zoning. In our personal experience with FCA, a virtual schooled student has the opportunity to excel at his or her own pace and grow from an emerging reader to reading above grade level in just a few short months. Why would Osceola County want to deny its residents an exceptional educational choice that is top quality, has been active and successful for multiple years, and that will ultimately save the county money?
I urge you to consider your choices again for the 08/09 school year. Hillsborough County has posted on their website that they have accepted contracts from both FCA and FVA for this school year. I urge you to speak with Hillsborough's superintendent and ask them how they made their decisions.Osceola County still has the opportunity to do the right thing and let its students attend the virtual schools they've already grown to love.
Thank you for your time and consideration.