The 87th legislative session is in full swing and lawmakers continue to work on the state budget. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II) and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will provide approximately $18 billion in emergency relief funds to Texas to assist school district leaders as they address the negative impact COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on their school communities over the next several years.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused major disruptions in instruction that could take years to remediate. School district administrators and teachers across the state are working tirelessly to meet these ongoing challenges. It is critical that school district leaders share with their lawmakers specific examples of the ways in which the pandemic has impacted their students, staff, and communities. It is equally important for legislators to hear about the ongoing challenges and resources needed to ensure this global pandemic does not create an ongoing educational crisis.
Please contact your legislators as soon possible and urge them to refrain from supplanting the federal stimulus money dedicated to public education and ensure those funds are directed to programs and services that will directly support the students and staff in your school district.
Additional Talking Points on Federal Stimulus Money
- School district leaders need these funds to assist with learning loss, wraparound services for students, and infrastructure needs directly related to the effects of the pandemic.
- District leaders must have flexibility in the use of these funds as needs vary across the state and often within a school district.
- These funds should be used for services and programs to assist with the impact of COVID-19 and not for purposes mandated by the state for ongoing expenses, such as general salary increases.
- Many school district leaders have already been using fund balance or diverting money from other areas for these purposes but this not sustainable.
Examples of Programs and Services
- Intensive summer, after-school, weekend, small group, or individual tutoring programs that will require additional pay for current teachers, funds to hire additional educators as needed for the intensive services, and funds for supplemental learning materials
- Robust summer school programs that are needed in the summer of 2021 and 2022
- Wraparound services for students such as counseling, social work, and parent support to assist with the social-emotional wellness of students
We strongly encourage superintendents to identify specific programs and services they need and share the costs of these programs with their legislators. We also encourage you to talk about the use of fund balance in your district.