Texas public schools can be funded despite falling attendance rates, Gov. Greg Abbott says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Parents and an education leader responded to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA)’s announcement Tuesday that public school districts may not lose funding due to attendance rates affected by the Covid19 pandemic.

In the announcement, Abbott and the TEA stated:“Texas school districts may be eligible for an adjustment to operational record requirements for certain attendance reporting periods during the 2021-2022 academic school year.”

This would apply to the first four grading periods of the current school year. Texas public school districts that have seen a drop in attendance rates due to the impact of COVID could remain eligible following this decision.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Agency, Announces Funding for Districts Affected by COVID-19

Typically, a school district’s funding is based on enrollment and daily attendance counts.

Jackie Anderson, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the announcement was too broad, leaving many more questions than answers about how it will impact public schools.

“I would like to see the full details of this announcement,” Anderson said. “It was very broad, and we just don’t know everything, you know? I can’t wait until it’s actually reviewed and we get full information on what to expect.”

With this funding adjustment, Anderson said, districts can still be penalized for losses of ADA due to declining enrollments. Earlier this month, HISD Superintendent Millard House II noted that enrollment is one of the key pillars the district is focusing on to prevent a significant loss of funding.
Enrollment in public schools is declining nationwide. Enrollment at Houston ISD is down 18,072 students compared to before the pandemic, according to an analysis of TEA data from 13 Investigates. With public school funding tied to Texas enrollment, the district could lose $228.5 million in state funding if the TEA does not renew a sanity agreement that has allowed districts to spend the past two years on the Obtained based on pre-pandemic totals.

Christina Quintero has two students enrolled at Houston ISD and said she was relieved to hear Texas public school districts may not be penalized with forfeiting funding as attendance numbers have been impacted by the pandemic. However, Quintero said she hopes the funding adjustment will be extended.

“They are going ahead and considering the first four valuation periods,” Quintero said, referring to Tuesday’s announcement. “I think it should take the whole year and the following year to really bridge that learning gap and be able to provide that support to our students. It has been discussed that the governor wants a quality education for our students; What we can do better is support them consistently for a year, so we have the resources to do that.”

Maria Fernandez, a parent of Lamar Consolidated ISD, agrees with Quintero. Due to the long-term impact of the pandemic on both learning and enrollment, she wishes for more support for students and staff in the years to come.

“While I’m glad the governor decided to minimize attendance requirements, leading to increased funding opportunities for schools affected by COVID absenteeism, the main issue has not been addressed and this is a band-aid,” Fernandez wrote in one Statement to ABC13. “Funding should be based on enrollment, not attendance. It would make funding consistent for a school to plan appropriately. It would make funding fairer.

ABC13 contacted Houston ISD, who provided the following statement:

HISD continues to work with school districts across the country to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including declining attendance rates. Our goal remains focused on getting as many students back into the classroom as possible for safe and personal learning and increasing overall enrollment and attendance rates. This funding adjustment, coupled with our recently unveiled strategic plan, will help us work toward our goal of retaining highly qualified educators and providing a quality education for our students as we look forward to our 22nd-23rd year. look forward to the school year.

We have also reached out to Alief ISD and have not heard anything about how this funding adjustment will affect the districts. Katy ISD declined to comment at the time.

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Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Texas public schools can be funded despite falling attendance rates, Gov. Greg Abbott says

Dais Johnston

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