Illinois Virtual School Bounces Back After Losing Federal Funding

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – With most schools keen to return to in-person learning, Illinois Virtual School still offers an online learning option, especially with the growing importance of the delta variant.

In January 2020, the Illinois Virtual School (IVS) was stripped of all of its federal funding.

Being one of the few virtual schools in Illinois, the school had to find a way to continue educating its students.

IVS executive director Kip Pygman said most of their funding comes from the Illinois State Board of Education.

“In the past, this was about 40% of our annual operating budget,” Pygman said.

When they discovered it halfway through the school year, the school had its budget set in stone. As a result, the school had to cut 33% of the teacher’s salary and increase the price of tuition from $ 220 per class to $ 240 per class.

But that didn’t stop Misty Mapes, a credit recovery service, English teacher and pedagogical coach for IVS teachers, from teaching there.

“Most teachers don’t work for money. So while this is a lot of work for less pay, I really think most of the teachers stick around because of their dedication to the program and what it means for Illinois students, ”Mapes said.

Pygman said the pandemic had made a difference in the number of registrations, however.

“Fortunately, for us, we have seen an increase in enrollments, due to COVID-19 and the pandemic, which has been very positive and beneficial for us financially,” Pygman said.

While Pygman said the higher enrollment numbers were great for financial reasons, it made teaching slightly more difficult, especially for students who had never taken a course through IVS before.

“A lot of times they were in four or five classes at the same time which was really overwhelming, so we made plans for them,” said Bonita Walker-Jones, English teacher at IVS.

Walker-Jones said that despite the difficulties in school, she enjoys her job and believes technology and virtual education are the future for generations to come.


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Perry A. Thomasson