Texas to Maintain Current Funding Levels for Public Schools to Support In-Person Instruction
As part of the State of Texas' recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, state officials on Thursday announced new details concerning funding for Texas public school districts.
Specifically, Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will continue with "hold harmless" protocols for state funding, which will maintain funding projections through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year for public school districts.
According to state officials, funding will be made available to school systems in Texas that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they maintain or increase current levels of on-campus attendance. Districts will be continue to be funded on attendance in line with projections made prior to the public health crisis.
The state officials also point out that public school districts will be able to retain their originally budgeted for teachers, for the remainder of 2020-21 school year, since funding levels will be kept the same.
Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott announced that effective March 10, 2021, the statewide mask mandate will end, along with other COVID-19-related protocols that reduced the operating capacities for businesses and state buildings on Texas. The governor said the goal for ending these mandates is to get students back into school for in-person instruction. Some school districts will still mandate students and teachers wear masks, but the decision will be made on the local level, rather than the state level.
"As more districts return to in-person instruction, we are ensuring that schools are not financially penalized for declines in attendance due to COVID-19," said Governor Abbott. "Providing a hold harmless for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year is a crucial part of our state's commitment to supporting our school systems and teachers and getting more students back in the classroom."
Getting back to funding for public school districts, the Spring 2021 Semester is slated to be the final semester of "hold harmless" funding. "Hold harmless" funding originally started in the Spring Semester of 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
"My goal is to get all of our students back in the classroom and this hold harmless funding will ensure our public schools can complete the school year and continue to bring students back to campuses for in-person learning. As always, we are grateful to those teachers across the state who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep our students on track," said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
"The State of Texas is committed to getting more students back into the classroom for in-person instruction and fully funding our schools – despite challenges that occurred as a result of COVID-19. I fully support the decision to provide necessary funding and maintain our commitment to Texas schools," said Speaker Dade Phelan.
The TEA notes that during normal school years, public schools are funded on a formula based on the number of students enrolled and the daily attendance percentage on campus.