School Funding

Katy’s families discuss virtual school amid uncertain public funding



June 7, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy ISD’s Virtual High School will not be accepting students this fall, unless the state passes a fundraising bill or additional guidance is provided. Local families are discussing virtual school options while the district will continue to offer additional virtual classes.

The bill for the financing of virtual schools does not pass

The Texas Legislature session ended on May 31, and the bill that would have provided school districts with funding for virtual funding was not passed. This is why Katy ISD has interrupted the registration scheduled for June 1 for their virtual high school.

No Katy Virtual High School In The Fall

Katy ISD will not be able to offer a standalone virtual high school, as previously announced, because the state did not pass the bill that would provide the funding. The District will continue to offer paid supplements online course programs via Katy Virtual School for students interested in pursuing an online job outside of the regular school day.

Katy ISD issued a statement thanking families for their patience and understanding as they await new guidance and legislation regarding the future of virtual learning in Texas.

The District offers Summer enrichment activities for each grade level which includes both educational and fun activities for Katy’s students and their families.

Katy ISD will once again welcome all students for in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year on Wednesday August 18.

When the virtual school works

Some local families have found virtual school options that work for them.

Angie Waller’s son, Wes struggled in third grade with kids picking on him.

“It was difficult for her to concentrate on school,” Waller says. “We decided that online school would be a good choice so that he could concentrate on school without being distracted by other children.”

Wes just finished his first year of virtual high school through Texas Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school.

While virtual school wasn’t new this year for the Waller family, the pandemic has given some families a reason to explore it as a form of education.

“We chose the online school because of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic,” says Radka Jaques. “We like the flexibility to choose lessons at their own pace; be able to catch up on weekends if needed; be able to work from any environment with WIFI.

For Katy’s mom, Lori Kessler, the decision to go virtual school was made to accommodate her son, Morgan’s gymnastics training program.

“My son is a top athlete and Connections allows him to go training in the morning 5 days a week and finish his homework in the afternoon,” says Kessler.

Wes Waller admits that there are some in-person school activities that are missing like cheer gatherings and Spirit Weeks etc.

“I am able to work at my own pace,” says Wes Waller on the virtual school. “I don’t have the distraction of other kids. “If I want to be alone, I can be, or if I want to go out with my friends, I can.”

Her mother, Angie Waller, wants Katy’s parents to know that virtual school takes dedication and parental involvement.

“You can’t just put your child in front of the computer and expect them to do the job,” Waller explains. “Even in high school, when work is lonely, you have to be involved.”

There are still hostels for Katy’s families who wanted to see a virtual high school operated by Katy ISD.

Hope for Katy Virtual High School

Bill that would have allowed the state to fund distance learning or virtual school programming fell victim to legislative walkout House Democrats used to kill controversial election integrity bill . This bill was not on the schedule for the next special session, but Education Commissioner Mike Morath could still issue a waiver allowing all schools to obtain funding for such distance learning programs.

Yet Katy Virtual School’s additional paid programs show something positive that came from virtual learning during the pandemic. Through these courses, Katy’s students can open their schedules to better adapt to fine arts or athletics, take courses required by the state when they move to Texas to graduate, access to courses not available on their home campus, etc.

In April, the district sent home a survey and more than 1,200 parents expressed interest in having their child (ren) attend a virtual stand-alone high school during the 2021-2022 school year in their responses. .

Learn more about these opportunities and follow updates on the future of Katy Virtual School at her website.


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