Exclusive interview with Frisco ISD Superintendent

Part one in a three-part interview with Dr. Mike Waldrip

Frisco ISD is an ever-growing district with new plans constantly in play, and WIngspan was able to sit down with the man who runs it all. Here is part one of a special interview with Dr. Mike Waldrip.

Wingspan:  How do you feel about where the district is now and the direction it is headed in?

Waldrip: “I think we all hoped we would be past the COVID-19 situation by now, but that’s obviously not the case. I think earlier this summer we thought things would progress towards normal and we have but there’s still some things we’re dealing with. One of the things we’re working to accomplish this year is to provide as normal of a school experience as possible for our students. I know that’s saying a lot right now, but that’s ultimately the goal for the rest of the year.”

Wingspan: What has the process of bringing all students back on campus been like?

Waldrip: “There’s been a lot going into that. Over a year and a half ago we were confronted with this sudden situation that we had to really react and do things in a very different way with virtual school and all the various things that came with that, all of the safety protocols. Over the course of the year those things kind of changed and evolved and of course last year we had a mask mandate, and now we don’t. Now, we have a mandate to not wear masks. So we have had to adapt and change and make things fit those different situations. It took a lot of work from a lot of different people. I think more than anything I’m most proud of our staff and teachers because as a school district there was not an aspect of our jobs that wasn’t affected by all this. There’s been a lot of work and a lot of people putting in a lot of time.”

Wingspan: Where does FISD stand regarding the governor’s decision to ban mask mandates?

Waldrip: “It’s a big legal mess right now, for lack of a better term. There are all types of law suits and restraining orders, and this judge issues this order and this judge puts out this ruling. Of course the governor is involved and so is the attorney general and there’s a lot of things going on in the legal arena with all of this. Ultimately, where Frisco lands with all of this, is we have an executive order from the governor that says we can’t require masks, so our position as a district is to follow that order. Until there is new information or new statements from an authority, we will continue to follow what the governor has asked.”

Wingspan: Why did the district make the decision to have a virtual school this year? 

Waldrip: “I think in June all things were pointing towards that we might be coming out of this pandemic and a more return to a normal situation. So we were basically hoping for and planning for a regular school year. Then when the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus started to become more prevalent and we started to see that it was starting to affect younger children in a different way we began to become more aware of the risks. With students older than 12, they can get the vaccine or wear an N95 mask if they want to, but that’s not the case with our younger students. We felt that to provide another option for safety in this environment would be to offer a virtual schooling to students who are younger than the age of 12, who can’t get the vaccine. We had a very significant response, almost 8,200 students signed up for the virtual option. Now one of the things about that is that the state is not funding that right now, so we’ve had to look for additional funding to get that money. It’s about to cost the district about 30 million dollars. Now, we’ve been fortunate that the federal government has paid us some supplemental funds and so we’re using that but beyond that, if we don’t start getting funding for the state, it will be difficult for us to continue that. Also we are also hoping that a vaccine for younger students can be widely accessible by the fall, in which case we would stop the virtual option. ”