Frisco ISD is officially on the road to getting state funding for its online learning program.

On Tuesday, the Frisco ISD board of trustees approved a resolution to operate a local remote learning program as allowed under state law. After Texas Senate Bill 15 was passed during the second session of the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, school districts found themselves with a way to provide online schooling this school year with secured attendance-based funding from the state, an option that wasn’t on the table when the school year began.

Before the senate bill came into law, Frisco ISD had already announced a temporary online program, funded through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding, for elementary through sixth grade students. The program, announced in early August, came in an effort to target the age group that is currently ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Tuesday’s resolution allows the district to seek state funding for that program.

“There are a myriad of conditions the district must follow in order to receive funding, and we want to assure you that we are in compliance with those conditions,” FISD Chief Academic Officer Wes Cunningham told board members.

According to the Texas Education Agency, SB15 caps enrollment for districts’ online schooling programs at 10% of total district enrollment. As of Aug. 30, enrollment for Frisco ISD’s temporary online learning program had reached 8,363 students, or 12.77% of the district’s total enrollment at the time.

Cunningham said that at a later board meeting, trustees are slated to approve seeking a waiver that asks for funding beyond the 10% cap.

Korinna Kirchhoff, communications facilitator with Frisco ISD, said the district’s temporary online option will continue to be re-evaluated and extended until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available for children under 12 years old.

“The district plans to continue to provide online learning for students in this current option through at least the end of the fall semester,” Kirchhoff stated.

She said if the waiver request to exceed the 10% cap is not approved, Frisco ISD will use ESSER funds that were originally set aside to cover the unfunded portion of students.

“As of now, the district is actively exploring how remote learning can be implemented in Frisco ISD in future school years within the parameters provided by the signed legislation,” Kirchhoff stated.

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