The federal government has awarded the state of Texas money to help public schools grapple with the costs associated with the pandemic, but state leaders are sitting on the nearly $18 billion intended for schools. Why? So, Texas can use the funding for their own legislative wants and once again shift any burdens of school financing again to its residents through property taxes?
State officials have already used more than $1 billion in federal education funding from the first stimulus package last year to make up existing budget shortfalls, rather than using that money to supplement the public education budget. Governor Abbott is reported to be one of only two governors in the country to grab 100% of the (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds approved in the CARES Act.
State leaders have contended their dereliction of duty currently is due to a requirement that the state has to invest an extra $1 billion in higher education to unlock the K-12 funding. Is this ratio really that onerous? It can be argued that about $1 billion in funding for higher education is a small price to pay to receive the nearly $18 billion in available relief for public schools.
However, state officials are asking for a waiver that would allow them to bypass the higher education funding requirement. Why is there such resistance to higher ed spending?
School districts are making their budgets now for the next academic year. Through stimulus funding for education, Congress intended to address student needs during and after the pandemic as well as hire professionals such as counselors and additional staff to support learning. It is time to release these funds, so our schools can adequately teach our students to become informed and responsible citizens.
Diane Teter, Edinburg