As the spread of COVID-19 became a global pandemic, disrupting every facet of our daily lives, Texas schools pivoted without warning or additional funding to continue the promise of public education. In the early days of the crisis, schools organized food distribution systems to ensure low-income students did not miss the school meals their families rely on. While districts worked to establish remote learning platforms, teachers printed and distributed lessons to their students to keep them on track and engaged.
It is a year into this pandemic and the commitment our schools have shown to enrolling and engaging students and their families has not waned. Our school districts conduct home visits, use data to identify eligible Pre-K students, and partner with non-profits to ensure students are enrolled and address barriers to remote participation.
Still attendance is lagging as families struggle to navigate working from home while parenting, insufficient devices and connectivity, and losses in income, health, and family members due to COVID. Because public education funding in Texas is based on attendance, our schools are at risk of losing over a billion dollars in funding this budget cycle if the Legislature does not act.
Holding School District Funding Harmless from COVID
Our schools need stability and COVID-specific supports to weather the remainder of the pandemic. To provide stability to school districts across the state, at a minimum, the Legislature should hold districts harmless from the effects COVID has had on attendance by using historic growth projections to fund schools in the coming budget. If the Legislature used the historic rate of growth for average daily attendance, the House and Senate budget proposals would have included funding for an additional 155,679 students in 2023.