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Florida Virtual School cuts 177 full-time positions

Florida Virtual School, the state's online public school, shed 177 full-time positions on Monday, spokeswoman Tania Clow said.

The cuts, which eliminated about 10 percent of the full-time staff, were needed because pre-enrollment dipped 32 percent from last summer, Clow said.

Officials at Florida Virtual blamed a change to the state's education financing formula that went into effect this year. Under the new rules, traditional school systems receive fewer dollars than last year for students who enroll in one or more online courses.

In May, Florida Virtual School CEO Julie Young predicted the change would discourage school districts from enrolling their students in FLVS courses. The state education department followed up with a memo reminding superintendents that they could not limit online enrollment for financial reasons.

State Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who chairs the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said the change to the funding formula was needed because Florida Virtual School was receiving a disproportionately large share of state education dollars.  

"Nothing in the recalibrated formula leads to a financial condition where districts need to reject kids from going into virtual," Fresen told The Herald/Times last month.

Earlier this summer, Florida Virtual cut 625 part-time instructor positions, and decided against filling 24 open-part time positions. 

"The entire FLVS family is saddened by the new realities we are facing," Clow wrote in a statement.

Clow said the online school would continue to serve children "at the highest level."

Florida Virtual School serves about 130,000 students from across the state. Students can either enroll full time, or take one or more classes in addition to their coursework at a traditional school.