Virtual schools worry about Kan. education funds as cuts loom

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The Kansas Legislature is facing potential budget cuts for the state's education system, and Kansas virtual public schools could be one part of the educational system that sees a dramatic change in its state funding. One family that relies on virtual schooling says that change could change their entire lives.

Wherever the Winters kids go, school is likely in session. That's because these three siblings go to school virtually, so as long as their laptops are connected, school can continue.

"I can work at my own pace, and I can get creative with my assignments," said 14-year-old Madisyn Winters.

The Winters kids started going to school online using the Maize Virtual Preparatory School this year. The program follows Kansas school curriculum and students have to pass state tests.

The youngest Winters girl has Type 1 diabetes, and it was hard for her to be away from home while keeping her blood sugar in check.

READ: Winters' family Letter to Kansas Senators and Representatives

Shelby Winters says all of her kids have benefited, though.

"Made leaps and bounds in learning, they have a new love of learning I feel," Winters said.

They join thousands of other students throughout Kansas going to school virtually. The tuition is free, thanks to state funding, which may soon go away due to education funding issues being debated in the Kansas Legislature.

"If funding were cut as proposed dramatically, we would have to close our doors," said Suzanne Wandling from Maize Virtual Preparatory School.

While the amount of proposed cuts to the program continues to change, those in favor of virtual schools say losing that option would be devastating.

"We would be heartbroken," said Winters.

The original Kansas bill would have called for 50 percent cuts to Kansas virtual school programs. That number has since decreased, but the funding plan is still not finalized.

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