Denton ISD K-8 Virtual Academy will open for the 2021-22 school year despite not receiving support from the Texas Education Agency or the Texas Legislature.
More than 247 students enrolled prior to the district’s deadline in April, and 114 students in the district are currently on a wait list. The wait list grew after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a coronavirus vaccine for children under 12 years old would not be approved until after the district’s first day of school on Aug. 12.
Denton ISD established its virtual public school in March as a permanent full-time option for students in kindergarten through eighth grade who thrived in online learning.
The district hoped to get funding from the Texas Legislature, but House Bill 1468, which would have funded virtual learning, died due to a legislative deadline. The district then requested a waiver to move forward with the current state funding but was denied.
Instead, Denton ISD is depending on an estimated $22 million in state and federal support from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to support the campus.
Earlier this year, the district selected Caleb Leath, most recently the principal at Wilson Elementary School, as the virtual campus’s new principal, and he has helped pick current Denton ISD teachers for the virtual academy.
As with students at its traditional schools, Denton ISD is providing Chromebook laptops for all students who opt to use a district-issued device. In one difference from last year’s ConnectedLearning program, students will not be allowed to easily transfer in and out of remote learning the way they could last year.
However, middle school students in the K-8 Virtual Academy will be able to participate in traditional extracurricular activities and athletics at the campus they’re zoned for.