EDINBURG — Enrollment at the school district here is down by around 1,500 students this school year compared to last year, raising concerns over funding from the state tied to attendance reports.
Eduardo Moreno, assistant superintendent for technology services for Edinburg CISD, presented the district’s attendance and enrollment records during a school board meeting Tuesday.
As of Feb. 5, ECISD had 32,792 students enrolled. On the same day in 2020, that number was 34,301, representing about a 4% decrease.
ECISD’s Pre-K level has seen the biggest decrease in enrollment this past year, dropping from 2,058 students to 1,432.
The Texas Education Agency distributes funding to districts based on attendance records of campuses, and districts have to send reports to the organization six times a year, for every six-week grading period. Student attendance is recorded whether they are walking through campus doors or logging into class through laptops or phones at home.
Since last school year, TEA has been allotting districts up to $6,160 per student. With enrollment currently down by 1,509 students, the district could stand to see a shortfall of about $9 million in state funding per year.
However, the state has extended some leniency to school districts through much of the pandemic, leniency that may continue.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools have had to transition to remote learning, TEA upheld an “ADA hold harmless” period at the beginning of the school year, in which districts that saw dips in enrollment would not lose funding during the first 12 weeks of school.
When schools reopened after the winter break and the third six-week period began, TEA extended the hold harmless agreement by another period. But ECISD did not qualify for that protection from funding cuts this period since its schools were not open to all students for the first week of the spring semester.
“It just stands to reason — for six-week period three, four, five and six, it will be reduced,” Rebecca Morrison, ECISD’s assistant superintendent for finance operations, said at the Tuesday meeting.
She has hope, however, that TEA will extend the hold harmless deal to the end of the school year.
“Our commissioner has kind of hinted that is a good possibility because of the second CARES Act that came out,” Morrison said of the possible extension.
And if that is the case, she said, the district would “come out very well because our hold numbers are greater than we projected in this year’s budget.”