District leaders looking to Austin as 2021 legislative session begins

The+87th+Texas+Legislature+opens+Tuesday+in+Austin+with+hundreds+of+bills+likely+to+be+proposed+before+the+session+ends+on+May+31.+%0A%0AAmong+the+items+Frisco+ISD+leaders+are+paying+special+attention+to+is+the+state+budget+and+the+future+of+online+learning+programs.+

Kasey Harvey

The 87th Texas Legislature opens Tuesday in Austin with hundreds of bills likely to be proposed before the session ends on May 31. Among the items Frisco ISD leaders are paying special attention to is the state budget and the future of online learning programs.

Kate Graham, WTV Staff Reporter

Meeting every two years, lawmakers in Austin start the 87th session of the Texas Legislature Tuesday.

While there are likely hundreds of bills to be proposed, Frisco ISD leaders are paying attention to a few specific things.

One of the biggest items for lawmakers this year is what is expected to be a multi-billion dollar budget deficit.

According to a news release on the Frisco ISD website, a top priority of the district will be to secure the current school finance system and funding level established by the legislature under House Bill 3 in 2019.

“House Bill 3 was a comprehensive fix to many of the problems that had persisted in the school finance system for many years,” Frisco ISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith said in the news release. “However, there was always the question of whether it would be sustainable in an economic downturn. Frisco ISD will work with the Legislature to identify solutions to a possible budget shortfall, including exploring new funding sources for schools. We will also encourage lawmakers to make any funding adjustments, if necessary, through the basic allotment, which would impact all school districts across the state equitably.”

Another priority for the district according to the release is in the area of online learning. 

The virtual academy currently being offered is only allowed because of the public health concerns from COVID-19.

However Frisco ISD is hoping to see legislative changes that would allow school districts to offer full, or partial online courses, after the pandemic. 

“We would love to have our own online school and in the state of Texas have eight online schools that are allowed to run but nobody else can join that right now,” Frisco ISD Director of Innovate Learning Tiffany Carey said. “What happened is we said Frisco is so big we would love to just have our own online school where we take care of students in Frisco. So right now there are online schools but they take care of students all around the state. And so what we are looking at that big difference for what we are asking for in the 87th session is we are asking that Frisco ISD be able to have its own online school of its own students. ”