During its October meeting, the Board of Trustees discussed three significant challenges, 1. The state is facing a $4.6 billion deficit as it enters the next Legislative Session in January, which will likely impact future school funding, 2. The district is facing a $300,000 current year deficit due to enrollment decreases caused by COVID, and 3. Significant facility projects identified through the 2020 Bond Program, which was postponed due to COVID, still exist.
To address these challenges, the board asked the administration to investigate a future bond program that would reduce pressure off the operating budget, prepare for growth, increase safety and security on campuses, and maintain the investment of the district’s existing facilities.
In response, the administration will be meeting with a group of community members to discuss projects that could comprise a future bond program. The Facilities Community Advisory Committee (FCAC) will be providing input on when a future bond election should be held, and what projects should be included. The good news is, because of outstanding planning, the Burnet CISD community would be able to enjoy the lowest tax rate in its history and could approve a bond program that would not impact the tax rate.
I look forward to sharing more information with you as the FCAC meets and makes recommendations.
This school year has been a challenge for students, teachers, as well as parents.
Beginning this past summer, we have focused on supporting parents’ choices about how they wish their children to learn during this pandemic. The district has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to create as safe a learning environment as possible for students at school, while also working with teachers to provide robust, remote learning.
Even though remote instruction this fall is far superior to the emergency remote instruction we provided in the spring, it has not proven to be effective for all learners. For students and families struggling with remote learning, we encourage a return to in-person learning.
We are not suggesting that remote learner families choose to withdraw to homeschool, or transfer to other remote learning schools. Rather, we are honestly communicating that many remote learners’ current paths are not sustainable due to grades and attendance. Success with asynchronous learning requires significant support; some remote students need accountability, encouragement, and prompting all day long from a trusted adult.
Our staff is working hard to address the learning gaps created by the emergency school closure last spring. However, when remote learners are not engaged and do not complete their assignments on time, those gaps widen too far to address within one year or grade level.
Today the percentage of remote learners is less than 15 percent. We would like to see that percentage drop further. It is easy to return to in-person learning. All you have to do is contact your child’s campus, and they will provide you the details on returning to in-person learning.
Remote learning options still exist for quarantined students and students with health considerations. However, remote learning is not a flexible option for family vacations or other optional absences. Our teachers take on additional work every time a student must learn remotely to promote success. We must not increase our teacher’s workloads to accommodate decisions made for preference or convenience.
Remote learning may be necessary for illness, quarantine or family medical advisement. However, most students will experience greater success on a campus in-person with trained adults that interact with them through the entire day. Because of this, we strongly encourage remote students to return to campus.