FISD urges Texas senate to expand online learning

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After a school year during which the Texas Education Agency permitted districts to offer virtual learning, the governing agency says without legislative action it won’t permit districts to offer virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year. Although FISD intends to serve FISD students through its planned Virtual School, the plan could get derailed if legislators do not move legislation forward in the coming days.

Aaron Boehmer, Staff Reporter

Joined by 44 other Texas school districts and education organizations, Frisco ISD wrote a letter asking Texas Senate leaders of the 87th Legislative Session to expand online learning and provide full funding to districts choosing to make these opportunities available to students during the 2021-22 school year. 

Such legislation would allow FISD the ability to continue to offer the choice of virtual learning to its students. 

“There are thousands of students across the state of Texas who thrive in a virtual environment and we have an obligation to ensure that they receive the best education possible by providing them with the choice to receive their learning virtually,” Frisco ISD wrote in the joint letter sent May 14 to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor and other members of the Texas Senate Education Committee.

Action must be put forth within the next week, as in order for legislation to fully complete its process both the House and Senate must pass the same version of the bill before it gets to the Governor’s desk to be signed into state law. 

After a school year during which the Texas Education Agency permitted districts to offer virtual learning, the governing agency says without legislative action it won’t permit districts to offer virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year. 

The question of whether districts should be able to serve students virtually who live outside their physical zoning boundaries has arisen as a point of contention among lawmakers. Although FISD intends to serve FISD students through its planned Virtual School, the plan could get derailed if legislators do not move legislation forward in the coming days.

“While some school districts would possibly take advantage of the ability to open their programs statewide if that provision was included, many have no plans to do so,” the letter stated. “Please do not let thousands of students miss out on an opportunity to engage with their education in the way that is most effective for them.” 

Despite the district working to expand online and hybrid opportunities even prior to the pandemic, the extent to which FISD had planned for virtual school during the 2021-22 school year may not be fully possible if the state lawmakers aren’t able to come to a consensus during this session.  

Frisco ISD is not alone in pushing for the ability to offer students who prefer an online learning environment with virtual school, as 44 other districts and education organizations co-signed the letter, including: 

Aldine ISD

Aledo ISD

Alief ISD

Austin ISD

Bryan ISD

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD

Castleberry ISD

Cedar Hill ISD

Clear Creek ISD

Conroe ISD

Coppell ISD

Corpus Christi ISD

Corsicana ISD

Dallas ISD

Denton ISD

Fort Worth ISD

Frisco ISD

Galena Park ISD

Garland ISD

Goose Creek Consolidated ISD

Grand Prairie ISD

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD

Houston ISD

Huffman ISD

Humble ISD

Keller ISD

Klein ISD

Lake Worth ISD

La Porte ISD

Lewisville ISD

Lovejoy ISD

Melissa ISD

Mesquite ISD

Pasadena ISD

Plano ISD

Prosper ISD

Richardson ISD

San Antonio ISD

Sheldon ISD

Sherman ISD

Spring ISD

Terrell ISD

 

North Texas Commission

Texas Computer Education Association

Texas School Coalition