Round Rock ISD to receive funding for students enrolled in virtual school as SB 15 goes into effect

With the enactment of Senate Bill 15 by Governor Greg Abbott on September 9, school districts can now receive average daily state funding for students enrolled in a district-offered e-learning program. (Brooke Sjoberg / Community Impact Journal)

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to the ADA as the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA in this story refers to “average daily attendance”.

With the enactment of Senate Bill 15 by Governor Greg Abbott on September 9, school districts can now receive average daily state funding for students enrolled in a district-offered e-learning program.

In August, Round Rock ISD announced that it will offer a virtual learning option to any student who wants it from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

More than 5,000 students have enrolled in the virtual option, and Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said in a presentation on Aug. 16 that it would cost the district around $ 17.5 million because students attending remotely don’t should not be counted in the average daily attendance.

The loss of $ 17.5 million will be recovered, according to Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, head of public affairs and communications for RRISD.

Under SB 15, no district in the state is required to offer virtual learning to its students, and districts that do so can only receive funding up to 10% of their total enrollment.

LaCoste-Caputo said RRISD’s virtual enrollment exceeded the threshold at one point, but has since declined due to the children’s return to in-person instruction.

“Even if there is this 10% cap on funding, even if we had been [above the threshold], we would not have excluded the children from the program. We would just have suffered that loss, ”said LaCoste-Caputo. “We’ve had more feedback on campus, which is a good thing. That puts us right at that 10% threshold.

Districts will only receive funding for students who meet the criteria outlined on the Texas Education Agency website regarding testing and previous attendance.

LaCoste-Caputo said the district is offering alternative exams for those who have chosen not to take the state of Texas academic readiness assessments this spring. These are part of the eligibility criteria for the district to receive financial aid for students who have not taken STAAR.

“We had a significant number of students who were virtual and didn’t want to come to campus to take the STAAR test, which is understandable given the circumstances,” said LaCoste-Caputo. “But we are convinced that there are other ways to assess students to make sure they are eligible. We are going to do it.

The district’s e-learning policies will not need to be adjusted for SB 15 eligibility, she said.

SB 15 will be in effect until September 1, 2023, with the need for virtual learning to be considered by the legislature in future sessions, according to the TEA.


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Perry A. Thomasson