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Katy Families Discuss Virtual School Amid Uncertain State Funding


June 7, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy ISD’s Virtual High School will not take students this fall unless the State passes a bill for funding or further guidance is provided. Local families discuss virtual school options while the District will continue to offer virtual supplemental courses.

Bill for Virtual School Funding Does Not Pass

The Texas Legislature session ended on May 31and the bill that would have provided school districts funding for virtual funding didn’t pass. This is why Katy ISD halted the planned June 1 enrollment 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 didn’t pass the bill that would grant the funding. The District will continue to offer supplemental paid online course programs through Katy Virtual School for students interested in pursuing on-line work outside of the regular school day.

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

The District is offering Summer Enrichment Activities for each grade level that includes both educational and fun activities for Katy students and their families.

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

When 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 making it hard for him to focus on school,” says Waller. “We decided online school would be a good choice so he could focus on school without the distraction on the other kids.”

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

While virtual school was nothing new this year for the Waller family, the pandemic gave some families reason to explore it as a form of education.

“We chose online school because of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic,” says Radka Jaques. “We like the flexibility to pick and choose the lessons in his own time; being able to catch up over the weekend if he needed to; being able to work from any environment with WIFI.”

For Katy mom Lori Kessler the decision to do virtual school was made in order to accommodate her son, Morgan’s gymnastics training schedule.

“My son is a high-level athlete and Connections allows him to go to practice in the mornings 5 days per week and complete his school work in the afternoons,” says Kessler.

Wes Waller does admit that he misses some in-person school activities like pep rallies and spirit weeks, etc.

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

His mom, Angie Waller, wants Katy parents to know that virtual school does take dedication and parent involvement.

“You can’t just place your child in front of the computer and expect them to do the work,” says Waller. “Even in high school, when the work on their own you have to be involved.”

There is still some home for Katy families that wanted to see a Katy ISD operated Virtual High School.

Hope for Katy Virtual High School

The bill that would have allowed the state to fund remote-learning, or virtual school programing fell victim with the legislative walkout House Democrats employed to kill the controversial elections integrity bill. That bill was not listed in the schedule on the upcoming Special Session, but the Education Commissioner Mike Morath could still issue a waiver allowing all schools to get funding for such remote-learning programs.

Still, the supplemental Katy Virtual School paid programs shows something positive that came from the virtual learning during the pandemic. Through these courses Katy students are able to open up their schedule to better accommodate fine arts or athletics, fulfill state required courses when moving to Texas for graduation, access courses not available at their home campuses, and more.

In April, the District sent home a survey and more than 1,200 parents expressed an interest in their child(ren) attending a stand-alone virtual 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 its website.


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