LISD’s 2021-22 virtual school has waitlist

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The waitlist began last week for Leander ISD’s 2021-22 virtual learning program.

“There were 332 applicants before we began wait-listing students,” said Matt Mitchell, LISD communications coordinator. 

In mid May, over 350 LISD families expressed an interest in remote learning for the next year. The 300-student cap was formed based on communication with families. 

LISD remote school is based on continued health concerns from the pandemic.  

So far there are 243 confirmed yes students including 41 from the Vandegrift feeder pattern, Mitchell said. There were nine LISD students confirmed no, and the rest were pending. After the Wednesday deadline, LISD will begin contacting students on the waitlist, which had 298 as of Monday. 

The program waitlist began July 21 with more than 100 applicants in its first day.

At the July 22 LISD Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Bruce Gearing said that a recent rush of applicants came in after the uptick in COVID-19 cases, many confirmed delta variant cases

Austin-Travis County raised its risk-based guidelines from Stage 3 to Stage 4 on Friday.

LISD expects to fund the $2.8 million, one-year program with federal stimulus or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund funding. The state of Texas will not provide funding for students in 100% virtual learning next school year. 

“Because we don’t get any funding for students in the program, we have a fixed amount of money to fund this program,” Mitchell said.  

Normally, LISD like other districts, gets money per student based on attendance, but the state is not providing funding for virtual students. 

“If we had a funding mechanism, we could consider increasing the capacity for this program, but we need the state to take action and give our families choice within our public schools,” Mitchell said. 

On June 17, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees approved the virtual school and a framework to provide 100% remote learning for PreK thru 12th-grade students. Remote students have to commit to a minimum of one semester; they have limited  advanced and elective course offerings; and secondary students are not eligible to participate in extracurricular activities offered on the home campus.

Gearing said at least one student from every LISD campus enrolled is in the program. There are 206 elementary school students, 57 middle school students and 69 high school students.