Central Texas schools work to provide virtual learning option without state funding

Education

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Central Texas parents are searching for virtual learning options weeks before school starts.

Both Round Rock and Leander are moving forward with a virtual learning option despite a lack of state funding, but spots are limited.

“It gave me peace of mind, and it was nice having them home,” said Elyse Lucero.

Lucero has a team of three inside the Leander Independent School District all under the age of 12. They’ve remained virtual up until now.

“They’re on the waitlist, because I missed that the survey meant registration,” said Lucero.

A program waitlist began July 21 with 101 applicants in its first day. The program caps at 320 students, but at last check Leander ISD officials say 150 students are currently on the waitlist.

In a survey done last month by Leander ISD, 504 students from 356 LISD families expressed a medical need for a remote learning option for 2021–22.

District officials says its tough to be equitable here.

“Because we don’t get any funding for students in this program, we have a fixed amount of money to fund this program,” said a Leander ISD spokesperson. “If we had a funding mechanism, then we could consider increasing the capacity for this program, but we need the state to take action.”

The Round Rock Independent School District, a district over, is also offering a virtual option for grades K-6. Information on how to enroll will be available July 29, but spots are also expected to be limited.

Leander ISD officials say they expect to fund the $2.8 million, one-year program with federal stimulus or ESSER funding. Texas will not provide funding for students in 100% virtual learning next school year.

The district is also in the process of hiring an assistant principal to oversee remote learning operations as well as additional virtual learning teachers.

“I wish Pflugerville ISD will change their mind,” said Sharon Candelas.

Without a virtual learning option in Pflugerville, Candelas is starting to look at outside homeschooling options for her students too.

“With the surge in the delta variant, we’ve all been very concerned as to how this might impact our families,” said Candelas.

Williamson County is in the red-level phase of transmission — the highest level — after cases more than doubled in just one week. Cases also increased 6.5 times since the end of June, Williamson County says.

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