Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)-As COVID-19 numbers rise, Texas schools face losing funding if the decide to close.
Every year, school districts must meet a certain amount of minutes of class instruction, in order to receive full funding from the state.
When districts go 100 percent remote learning, those minutes are cut in half.
House District 40 Representative Terry Canales said the Texas Education Agency is financially punishing districts.
“In depriving school systems across the state which are already financially strapped, putting them in a worse position by not allowing flexibility. So what we’ve asked the commissioner to do is use common sense.” said Canales.
In a 2nd letter penned to TEA Commissioners, Mike Morath, Canales is pushing the commissioner for flexibility to go full remote learning, while insuring full funding.
State Board of Education Member, Ruben Cortez says giving schools half funding is unfair.
“We shouldn’t penalize our schools because they are still going to be offering a full day of academic instruction, remotely but a full day of academic instruction, yet your going to give half time.” said Ruben Cortez, State Board of Education, District 2
Before Christmas break, Cortez was joined from nearly 30 Superintendents from Region one, in requesting a regional waiver asking for four additional weeks of remote learning, but the waiver was denied.
Cortez says he was disappointed that Commissioner Morath did not meet with the Superintendents to inform them the waiver was denied, giving them an opportunity to plead their case or tell them why.
We reached out to the TEA, but they say it’s a local issue for districts to decided their school calendars. In a call with superintendents this summer, they encouraged districts to account for possible COVID related closures, when making their calendars.
The TEA also added that there is some flexibility for individual campuses, which can get a total of five days of full funding if they close for a confirmed COVID-19 cases, and up to 14 days if there is a significant impact.
“To be honest with you as a parent of five children, it’s exhausting and as a legislator it’s disappointing, and as a tax paying citizen it’s disgusting.” said Canales.
TEA officials say can avoid losing fuding by making up the time, and can add extra days of instruction to the end of their school year.
Canales said Governor Abbott could file an emergency item to the legislature to address the issue, but says it’s unlikely because the Governor is the one pushing this agenda.