Texas funnels $ 11.2 billion to public colleges

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Texas governor Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday that the state is finally freeing up $ 11.2 billion in one-time state stimulus money for the state’s public schools.

Abbott made the announcement along with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Spokesman Dade Phelan, saying the funds will be used over the next three years through grants monitored by the Texas Education Agency. On top of that, there is an additional $ 7 billion in federal stimulus money, and there is still no word from the state on how to apply this.

The stimulus money is intended to help schools across Texas with all of the students who are not doing well in the pandemic-inspired conditions, which for many has meant online classes, social isolation and the loss of the usual rites of passage like graduation ceremonies. And then there is an entirely different group of students who simply dropped out of school altogether.

Several education groups criticized the delay in transferring funds, saying they needed the money now to prop up their operations after unexpected household expenses due to COVID-19. The Texas State Teachers Association, which commented after the Texas Senate tabled its first budget proposal that did not include federal funding, previously released a statement from TSTA President Ovidia Molina that federal money was not intended to replace state money, and this is neither should it go unused as districts across the state struggle to meet their students’ needs.

A sliding scale determines the amount of the payout to each district. That means a district like Houston ISD will get more money – it will receive approximately $ 800 million – than districts with a smaller percentage of low-income families.

In response to the state’s announcement, the HISD press office issued a statement saying, “If we prioritize funding for education, we are making a statement that we are investing in our children, our communities and our economic future. The Houston Independent School District commends Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Spokesperson Dade Phelan for recognizing the difficulties and learning loss faced by our students and staff during this pandemic. The allocation of more than $ 800 million to HISD shows that they are committed to recovery and we are grateful for the funding. This gives the district administrators and the HISD Board of Trustees a chance to set up a solid budget for the upcoming school year that takes our priorities into account. “

In a statement published by Abbott, in announcing these and other federal government funds, he complained about “the intricacy of the federal government’s maintenance of effort requirements.” At another point, when discussing the $ 5 billion the state had previously received from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation (CRRSA) law, he noted that this and other laws passed by Congress “involved significant Conditions were connected “.

At least in response to a Democratic president, Republican Abbott is clearly not sticking to the “don’t look a gift horse in your mouth” axiom.

In the same press release, Abbott pointed to government work to increase funding for education, which had increased more than $ 5 billion year over year in the 2019-20 school year.

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief overseeing the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She often writes on a wide variety of topics.