Why Did GCISD Open iUniversity Prep?

In 2011, the Texas Legislature cut $5.2 billion in public education funding across the State. There are only two ways in Texas to increase funding to fill the gap caused by these cuts; increase the tax rate or add students.

As the District did not want to burden taxpayers, GCISD instead used a two-prong approach to bring in more students, and therefore revenue. The first involved opening the Districts transfer policy for families who live in Grapevine or Colleyville but are not zoned for GCISD. This also includes if a student does not reside in the district but the grandparent is a GCISD resident.

The second initiative, iUniversity Prep, was aimed at bringing students outside the boundaries of GCISD to the District.

iUniversity Prep opened its virtual doors for the 2013-2014 school year. As the District was already receiving funding for students that attended school in GCISD, iUniversity Prep was designed for students who do not live in the necessary attendance boundaries.

Initially, iUniversity Prep enrolled 119 students in grades sixth through eleventh. By the 2017-2018 school year, iUniversity Prep offered classes for students in fifth through twelfth grade and currently has an enrollment of 630 full-time students. Of these students, 34 live within the GCISD attendance boundaries; however, they were not attending a GCISD campus prior to their enrollment in iUniversity Prep.

A virtual education provides flexibility that is needed for students who have professional careers, health issues, social anxiety, students of military families, students looking for a different challenge or are previously homeschooled. For example, current or former iUniversity Prep students include: 

Nik (Tennis and Health)
Ian (Ice Skater)
Paxton (Soccer)
Amoree (Gymnast)
Gillian (Ballerina) 
Mary Tish (Model)
Abbey (Photographer)
Austen (Skeet Shooting)
Clio (Musician)
Mikaela (Contemporary Dance) 

Student Success
At the time of its inception, iUniversity Prep was one of three virtual schools that was administered by a public school district in the State. As of 2015, iUniversity Prep is the only district-administered virtual school and remains the highest performing virtual school in the State of Texas: 

Image of 2018 STAAR scores

State Funding for iUniversity Prep
GCISD does not charge tuition for iUniversity Prep students.  If the District charged tuition, by law it would not receive State funding for these students. The District may either charge tuition or receive State funding, but not both. 

For the traditional brick and mortar campuses, GCISD receives funding from the State based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA). There are no requirements to receive this funding other than a student is present at school. While the District receives funding if the student is physically present, the District must also pay recapture, or Robin Hood, on these funds. 

The funding associated with iUniversity Prep is not based on ADA, but is instead based on how many courses a student successfully completes. A student is determined to have successfully completed a course if they finish all coursework with a grade of 70 or above.

If a student successfully completes courses with iUniversity Prep, the District receives the same amount of funding per student as a traditional brick and mortar student.

Additionally, the funding the District receives is based on the GCISD tax rate, not the tax rate of where the student resides. 

iUniversity Prep Revenue
In order to get iUniversity Prep operational, the District borrowed money from its fund balance and those expenses were repaid in full by the end of the second school year. Since the 2014-2015 school year, iUniversity Prep has generated more revenue than expenditures as shown below:



The revenue that is brought in from iUniversity Prep is deposited into the GCISD General Operating Budget, which benefits all GCISD students and staff.

Additionally, as part of its curriculum, iUniversity Prep staff created a course through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) entitled Principles of Health Science. This course is open to any public school student in the State of Texas for a fee of $400 per student per semester. This is direct revenue for GCISD.

In 2017-2018, 140 students were enrolled in Principles of Health Science for a total revenue of $56,000. This is more than double the revenue that was brought in from the same course in the 2016-2017 school year. This revenue is used to offset the cost for blended or accelerated courses that are offered for GCISD students through ASPIRE Academy, Math Telescoping and Collegiate Academy. This year there are 150 GCISD students who are taking at least one course through the blended option with iUniversity Prep. 

iUniversity Prep Operational Costs
In 1996, the district entered into an agreement with the City of Grapevine to bring Grapevine Mills Mall and other businesses to a piece of undeveloped land. To learn more about the TIF agreement, click here to watch a brief explanatory video. In addition to using the TIF money to renovate Mustang Panther Stadium, the District also purchased six acres of land adjacent to Heritage Elementary School. Included on the property was a small house that was converted into office and parent meeting spaces for iUniversity Prep.

It is important to note that no bond funds were used to purchase this land.