MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Governor Greg Abbott announced a $420 million reimbursement program for Texas schools.
The program is intended to give back the money spent during the transition to remote learning and is part of Operation Connectivity, which has made progress in closing the digital divide here in Texas with the procurement of over two million eLearning devices and WiFi hotspots.
“We actually asked school districts to give us a gauge of how much they had to spend on connectivity devices and how large was their expense,” said Jake Kobersky, Spokesperson for TEA.
While the reimbursement will help school districts who’ve spent thousands of dollars on connectivity devices, some educators say they appreciate the reimbursement and will help their districts, but say they need more funding for the future.
“I think the reimbursement brings about the question you know is TEA going to guarantee funding for schools throughout the year because it has not been clear,” said Clarissa Riojas, an educator in McAllen.
Riojas worries about the funding and TEA’s plan to return for in-person instruction. She said there needs to be more flexibility when deciding to continue remote learning.
“We were a covid hot spot right and it looks like it’s going to get that way again we need to have the option to go remote as opposed to being forced to stay in person,” she said.
While TEA did not comment on their returns to in-person instruction or funding for this school year, they are hopeful this reimbursement plan will help support remote learning during COVID-19 and assure every student has access to remote learning.
“Operation connectivity is a long-term initiative and the goal is to not just figure out short-term solutions it’s to make sure internet connectivity is seen as a utility and necessity,” said Kobersky.
For more information on the reimbursement program or information on the distribution for districts you can find Governor Abbott’s release here.