Emails (excerpted), responses to PolitiFact Texas, Debbie Ratcliffe, director of media relations, Texas Education Agency, Nov. 12 to Nov. 28, 2012

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Nov. 12, 2012

The Legislature appropriated $4,000,000 in each year of this biennium for operation of the TxVSN.


Regarding the question that we elaborate on the statement that changes we made to the VSN (the way we pay for virtual courses), I believe this may be referring to paying schools ADA for students who successfully complete courses in the TxVSN.


As mentioned below, a change to statute requires every district to adopt a policy that provides students with the opportunity to enroll in electronic courses provided through the state virtual school network. The proposed rules for TxVSN also include the following language related to this requirement:

§70.1035. Rights Concerning the Texas Virtual School Network.

(a)           At the time and in the manner that a school district or charter school informs students and parents about courses that are offered in the district's or school's traditional classroom setting, the district or school shall notify parents and students of the option to enroll in an electronic course offered through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN).

(b)           A school district or charter school in which a student is enrolled as a full-time student may not unreasonably deny the request of a parent/legal guardian of a student to enroll the student in an electronic course offered through the TxVSN.


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Nov. 14, 2012

...Here are some answers from Monica Martinez.



1. What was the exact amount spent on the virtual school allotment?

See attached documents


2. How much did we spend in ADA for the TxVSN last school year?

Estimated State Aid for VSN students after adjustment



2012 VSN ADA after adjusting for VSN attendance rules / course completions

Estimated State Aid for VSN students


Texarkana ISD




Houston ISD




Texas College preparatory Academies






3. What was the total amount spent for scholarships?

$5,827,760 was spent for scholarships awarded in the 2011-12 school year (last year) and the 2012-12 school year (this year).


4. How many scholarships were awarded?


fall 2011



spring 2012



summer  2012



fall 2012


Not final until end of Dec

Spring 2013

4000 allocated

Districts have until 1/19 to use



5. Is there anything in legislation that encourages districts to work with private companies to deliver online courses? No



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Nov. 19, 2012 (from Anita Givens, Texas Education Agency via Ratcliffe)

...Below is a summary of the changes in funding since TxVSN was authorized.  Let me know if you have questions or need additional information.





When TxVSN was authorized in statute, funding was provided via rider for central operations and course review. Districts were responsible for payment of course fees to the provider district for students taking TxVSN courses each semester. The average cost per course was $400.  


In 2009, the virtual school allotment was created that provided $400 for each course to be paid to the provider district and $80 to be paid to the receiver district to support each student taking an online course. For courses part of a normal class load (7 courses each semester), the $480 was paid from the Foundation School Program.  For courses beyond a normal course load, the $480 was paid from rider funds.  Rider funds also supported central operations and course review.


Since the majority of courses taken by students during FY2010 and FY2011 were part of a normal course load, the funding came from FSP and the remaining rider funds were rolled forward for FY12-FY13.  Rider funds provided the $4 million each year for central operations and course review and the funds rolled forward are made available as TxVSN scholarships for students taking TxVSN courses.


In 2011, the virtual school allotment was repealed and now districts are again responsible for payment of course fees to the provider district for students taking TxVSN courses. However, the student attendance accounting handbook was updated to reflect that students successfully completing a TxVSN online course are eligible for ADA funding in the same way a student attending a bricks and mortar school generates ADA funding.


The changes each legislative session regarding funding for TxVSN courses impact how districts offer and how students participate in TxVSN online courses.

(from W. Gardner Selby to Ratcliffe)

Thanks. But..., I can’t tell if I got it right or wrong at the end of last week.


Broadly, my sense then was that the VSN had been appropriated $10 m a year and that was cut to $4 m a year by the 2011 Legislature. This was not an increase of $5 million a year.


Am I correct?


If not, what figures would you swap in?





W. Gardner Selby


PolitiFact Texas

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Nov. 20, 2012

From: Givens, Anita

Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To: Ratcliffe, Debbie

Subject: RE: PolitiFact Texas Query


While the rider for TxVSN was reduced from $10 million per year to $4 million per year, that amount is specifically for central operations and course review.  The funding available to districts was changed from a set amount in the rider to the actual amount needed from FSP for students successfully completing online courses.  This effectively removed the limit on how much funding would be available for TxVSN courses.  The actual enrollment in TxVSN courses for the 11-12 school year and the 12-13 school year has not required the additional $5 million each year but the funds are considered available.