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Editor’s note: As expressed during the school board meeting, the CFISD Virtual School was contingent upon the state legislature approving and funding such a measure. The 87th legislature closed session without doing so. Thusly, the proposed CFISD online school will not happen. If you wish for your student to continue learning in an online environment, please consider a service such as Stride K12.

CYPRESS — The Cypress-Fairbanks ISD board of trustees met tonight, including a report on the status of a possible virtual academy for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

However, during the public comments, two speakers asked for pay incentives for CFISD teachers before one of the local union presidents took to the lectern. Cy-Fair American Federation of Teachers’s President Nikki Cowart asked the trustees for a 4% pay raise.

“Educators shape the future of this country,” she said.

The growing housing market is squeezing teachers and staff to the point they are having trouble affording to live in the Cypress area, she told the Cypress News Review.

CFISD is preparing for a possible deficit in next year’s school budget. (CFISD Communications graphic)

CFISD BUDGET UPDATE

Additionally, CFISD is looking at a possible $41 million budgetary deficit for the upcoming school year.
“Our goal is still, to come as close as we can to balance the budget,” said Dr. Mark Henry, CFISD superintendent.

LIke school districts across the state of Texas, CFISD is still waiting on the state to release money intended to help local school districts. (CFISD Communications graphic)

“We can’t show our monetary value, when someone else holds our cash,” said Don Ryan, board trustee, about the state of Texas not delivering funds to local school districts.

CFISD VIRTUAL SCHOOL

Dr. Linda Macias emphasized that the virtual academy is a proposed plan, and must be approved by the Texas legislature. According to Macias, if the legislative session ends, and it’s not approved and fully funded, then it won’t happen.

According to the superintendent, CFISD has 74% of students attending in-person.

However, that leaves just less than 30,000 students as online learners right now.
With the usual battle for student population waged between neighboring brick and mortar districts, combined with the growth of charter and private parochial schools in the Cypress area, the addition of online-only schools to the mix complicates issues for districts, while giving parents more choices for their children’s education.

“We’d rather them go to us, than another provider,” said Trustee Julie Hinaman.

The instruction at the CFISD Virtual School would be “scheduled synchronous instruction,” and a full school year commitment for students to attend.” However, for admittance the students would need 80s in all classes, conceivably at the end of the current school year. Failing a class during the upcoming school year would cause the student to be sent to their zoned campus, according to Macias’ presentation.

“If you can not be successful, we’re not going to accept you (online),” said the superintendent.
For those parents who feel that the in-person and online experiment failed as teachers predicted it would last summer, an emphasis was placed on the proposed school having no in-person students.

CFISD has created a brief questionnaire for families looking at their children attending CFISD’s proposed Virtual School in the fall. (CFISD Communications graphic)

“This is not CFISD Connect,” Macias told the board. “This is an actual school. All extra-curricular activities would be virtual. They would only participate in virtual activities and organizations.”

As such, the athletics activities are not expected to exist for the proposed CFISD Virtual School. However, clubs and other functions could still exist.

“Blended (instruction) is dead,” Macias continued. “On July 3rd we’ll bury it.”

The teachers assigned to the proposed school would work from CFISD’s Brautigam Center.

The application window is from May 12 – June 1, 2021. However, the district was very clear in stating that it is a proposed plan.

“We feel that we need to get moving if we’re going to be ready by August,” said Macias.
Macias stated that special education and bilingual students can apply.

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