By Geronimo M. Rodriguez Jr. and Trish Bode
3 times Congress has handed and the President signed payments to supply aid funds for the coronavirus pandemic, and 3 times checks have arrived in chequing accounts, payroll has been stored, and payments have been paid. Every time, Congress has included funding for Texas public faculties, $ 19 billion in all, however every time none of that cash reached Texas public faculties as anticipated. The rationale? The cash was channeled via the state.
If central Texas public faculties have an opportunity to make up for misplaced time, we’d like the cash that Congress has allotted to native faculties.
In the event you’re confused since you’ve learn that public faculties are included in COVID-19 aid payments, you are not alone. The primary aid invoice was $ 1.3 billion particularly for Texas public faculties. The December 2020 aid invoice added $ 5.5 billion for Ok-12 schooling in Texas. After which the final invoice included a further $ 12.4 billion, all going to public faculties in Texas.
So if Congress wrote this in federal legislation, why have not native faculties obtained it? Technically, we did it, however solely technically. It’s because the state, which was answerable for distributing the funds, despatched a part of it to the districts whereas subtracting an equal quantity of public funds. By supplanting and never supplementing our funding as Congress meant, the state of Texas is undermining its public faculties.
Because the state embezzles our funds, the pandemic will increase our obligations. We, together with Barbara Stroud, Dripping Springs Impartial College District Board Chair, Byron Mitchell, Elgin ISD Board Chair, Ed Navarette, Florence ISD Board Chair, John Havenstrite, chairman of the Eanes ISD board of trustees, and Vernagene Mott, chairman of the board of Pflugerville ISD, want the aid funds to be spent as deliberate. These COVID-19 wants embody unfinished studying, psychological well being providers for college students, psychological well being providers for academics and workers, broadband and know-how wants, gear buy. safety and upgrading of amenities.
As anybody who has been via the previous two years of faculty can inform you, the know-how to attach college students with academics was mission important. Sooner or later, we’ll face new “restoration wants” – educational, psychological and emotional – that aid funds can be utilized. Our college students want early childhood interventions, tutoring and extra summer season college. The necessity for earlier than and after college care has elevated. Recommendation is extra necessary than ever. And it’ll take work to search out and proceed to hitch the hundreds of scholars who didn’t register throughout the pandemic.
We perceive higher than many of the pressures lawmakers face and we aren’t blind to their views. We urge them to think about that we share the identical voters and that our wants are felt so acutely in each group, no matter voting patterns, demographics and geography. We converse for the central Texas public faculties, however the fact is, it’s a Texas drawback that wants an answer in Texas.
Making certain that public faculties obtain all of the aid that Congress desires is only one factor the state can do to assist the general public. As well as, innocent funding for 2020-2021 and ample funding for schooling via the state price range are wanted to care for college students, households and workers. We hope state lawmakers hold their guarantees to completely fund the schooling commitments made in Home Invoice 3 in 2019, together with enrollment progress and vital fixes to the college funding system.
Whereas Texas waits, different states are scrambling to make sure aid funds attain faculties. That is important for the restoration of our state. With out it, our college students and our state will fall behind the remainder of the nation as we emerge from this pandemic. We ask that the state transfer rapidly to allocate these funds immediately to highschool districts, who can greatest decide learn how to use the funds to assist a powerful restoration in faculties and communities throughout our state. Our kids deserve no much less.
Rodriguez is Chairman of the Board of Administrators of Austin ISD. Bode is Chairman of the Board of Administrators of Leander ISD.