Remote Learning Could Mean $31M Hit to Frisco ISD Budget

The district will lose $40 per student per day in state funding for every student enrolled in remote learning as opposed to in-person learning.

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The 2021-2022 school year begins Thursday for most students in the Frisco Independent School District.

In-person learners, including all middle and high school students in the district, will return to class on Thursday.

The more than 8,200 Early Childhood through sixth-grade students who opted for the virtual learning program that the Frisco ISD made available at the 11th hour will begin their school year on Monday, Aug. 16.

Superintendent Michael Waldrip reiterated that the Frisco ISD had been committed to bringing all of the district’s students back to the classroom setting for this school year. But the recent spike in COVID cases in North Texas and across the country forced his hand.

“[Our goal had been] make it as normal as possible. I think that, that is everybody’s wish, and it was [the plan] going into the school year that it could be somewhat normal like we have experienced in the past,” Waldrip said. “Obviously things did not turn out the way we wanted them to.”

Frisco ISD was among the first, if not the very first, school district in North Texas to offer a remote learning option for this school year. The state of Texas has made efforts to force schools to bring students back in person for 2021-2022. The biggest disincentive for remote learning is that the state will not provide any funding to cover its costs.

For every student enrolled in remote learning, the Frisco ISD expects to lose $40 per day. Overall, Waldrip estimates his district will lose more than $31 million of funding if Frisco ISD offers the remote learning option for the entire first semester.

"Obviously, we can’t do this forever. We can’t do it long-term because we can’t afford to do it,” Waldrip said. “We are hopeful that a vaccine will come out for these younger kids because when it does become widely available we are going to stop offering this [remote] option unless the state can do something to help us continue to fund it.”

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