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Funding for State Virtual Schools

State virtual schools are operating in 26 states, providing supplemental online courses to students across their states.¬†Eleven states have course choice policies or programs that are allowing students to choose online courses from one or more providers. ¬†If you’re starting a program in one of those states that doesn’t have a state virtual school or state-led initiative, the initial costs and budget are a critical piece of your proposal to the governor, legislature or state department of education.

As with all other programs, cost depends greatly on the size of the program, your goals, and the characteristics of your state such as size and population density. One 2006 study determined that a state virtual school designed to serve the equivalent of 500 full-time students in its first year would require approximately $1.6 million to adequately fund start-up activities prior to providing instruction. Eighty percent of this amount funds management and course purchase or development. Major cost categories include management, instruction, course development/purchase, technology set-up, and technology personnel.9

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