FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - While educators and parents agree most students need to learn in school, Frisco ISD administrators and parents want to offer a fully virtual curriculum for students this fall.
House Bill 1468 would provide school districts that offer the virtual course-load full funding.
Under the bill, the online curriculum would be provided to students in the third through 12th grades.
The legislation would not allow students in kindergarten through the second grades to be enrolled, which is the same as current law.
Michelle Ames, whose third-grade daughter is learning online this year but returning to the classroom in the fall, supports students having a choice. "It allows our kids the freedom to do what they want to do within their interest and their parents abilities."
Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip said there is a need for this curriculum. "We want to offer students additional options, additional choice and we've had a lot of interest in virtual learning. We found over the course of the last year, that some of our students even do better in a virtual environment."
He said nearly 1,000 students have expressed an interest in virtual learning this fall, including athletes.
After the Texas House approved the legislation, it went to the Senate, and a committee may hold a hearing this Thursday.
But with the state legislative session ending in less than two weeks, some school districts are worried the bill may not pass in time.
Frisco and more than 40 other school districts statewide sent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this letter saying, "We urge you to advance legislation that would provide funding for school districts to serve their own students in an online environment.. 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."
The four largest teacher groups previously expressed concerns in a letter to a House Committee Chairman saying, "We respectfully offer recommended edits to HB 1468 that would clarify student eligibility requirements, offer program quality protections, and sunset the provision in order to allow time and space for review."
Waldrip said the district helps students who aren't doing well online. "We bring them back to the in-person environment and that would be a condition that we would carry into any virtual learning model that we have moving forward."
Michelle Ames said her daughter performed very well in the virtual curriculum.
Ames started a Facebook support group for parents during the pandemic called Frisco ISD Virtual Learners, which is not affiliated with the district.
She hopes state lawmakers are listening. "Lawmakers need to look at what do parents want, what helps them best educate their kids, and what gives their kids the greatest opportunity for success overall."
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