By Jack Fink

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Senate Education Committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday morning, August 10, on a bill that would allow school districts to provide online or virtual learning while still receiving full funding per student.

As of now, most school districts across the state are not offering this as an option because they would receive less funding per student from the state.

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Frisco ISD, Richardson ISD, and Plano ISD are offering the option to students in kindergarten through the sixth grade because they aren’t eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Senate Bill 15 would allow school districts to establish online learning programs for students, but the districts would be capped at 10% of their student population.

The Senate passed a bill at the end of the regular session in May that would have provided full funding for the virtual option this school year.

But a vote on the final version of that bill didn’t take place in the House because Democrats broke quorum.

On Monday, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says he and Senate Republicans have supported this legislation, and he blamed Democrats for their current situation.

“We passed it. I totally support it. When the Democrats walked out on the last night of the regular session, that bill died to provide funding for virtual schools. If there’s no funding for virtual schools for the schools, it’s the Democrats who killed the bill and are killing it again.”

The Texas Education Agency has said because of another bill that passed during the regular session, it doesn’t have the authority to grant waivers to school districts that want to provide virtual learning.

Democratic State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas said Governor Greg Abbott is to blame for the situation.

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He said Governor Abbott should have included online learning in his Executive Order and have also given flexibility to school districts to put in place mask mandates and notify parents when someone in their student’s class has tested positive for the virus.

“What needs to happen and the governor knows this, he needs to reverse his executive order. He can also, by the way, authorize virtual school fully within his power. He’s just chosen not to do that. So we want to make sure we give parents that choice, especially under this deadly pandemic. Always been in favor of that.”

Aside from Senate Bill 15, a similar bill has been proposed in the House, HB 30.

Until there’s a quorum reached in the House, there won’t be any consideration of any legislation.




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