Concerns spoken that virtual learning may cause teachers to lose their jobs

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 10:19 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Non-traditional schools in Amarillo say they are seeing an increase of students and it’s due to virtual learning; but an increase for some schools could mean jobs lost for others.

Charter schools and schools that offer online learning say they have seen an increase in enrollment since the pandemic broke out and especially now that some area school districts have done away with virtual learning.

“For those parents that don’t want their kids to be here in school, it’s a perfect opportunity, not just for us, but to provide a good service to the community,” said Becky Pinson, director of Premier High School Amarillo.

Charter and online schools say they are seeing an increase of students making the transition from public schools.

“Many school districts are moving away from providing a virtual option for their students and, so we have seen an increase of students coming to our program for that reason,” said Cari Moye, principal TTU K-12.

It’s not just those students trying not to catch the virus, it’s also high schoolers who now have to work to help support their family.

“Catching those kids that ‘I’m helping support my family, I still need to go to go’. OK here is a model that we can give you. We’re not expecting you to work every day, we just give you the support that you need to make progress,” said Pinson.

Students making the switch comes at a price.

“When we talk about what it means in the state of Texas for districts to take that away from families, it is going to turn families away from public schools,” said Aaron Phillips, president Amarillo Education Association.

School funding is typically allotted to schools based on enrollment and attendance.

Since October the Texas Education Agency has provided the anticipated funding to schools despite enrollment.

This is set to change next year.

“That wavier only goes through to January, so if that wavier is not extended past January, then at that point, public schools will start seeing a lack of funding for those students and that will come out of budgets for that year which is eventually is going to equal teacher contracts,” said Laura Abernathy, president, Amarillo AFT.

Members of Amarillo education unions say while virtual learning may be what some students need at the moment, charter schools are very different from public schools and not held to the same standards.

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