The global pandemic will alter districts’ approach to instruction, health and safety, and food services. Districts will also have to address student and teacher connectivity issues, adopt schoolwide learning management systems, and plan for safely operating schools. Simply implementing the health and safety protocols for reopening campuses will cost an additional $485 per student for an average school district1, nearly the same amount as the HB 3 funding increase.
The 2020 stimulus, the federal CARES Act, provided Texas with additional funding for public education, including $1.3 billion for low-income students. The Texas Education Agency used these funds during the 2019-20 school year to offset state funding. During the 2021 session, that “savings” should be used to avoid cuts in the Foundation School Program and not to plug other holes in the state budget.
Now, due to COVID-19, districts will need additional funding to safely and effectively serve all students. This is a time to continue the state’s investment in our public schools, to fully implement HB 3, and to ensure our students can safely return to their classrooms. A well-funded education system is essential—both to our economic recovery and to our future. We must continue to make every legislative session an education session and provide our educators and students the resources they need.