WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Schools in Texas were already facing challenges before the pandemic, and a year after the COVID-19 outbreak began, those challenges are more daunting than ever.
“Many districts had massive infrastructure shortages while others struggled to keep up with the explosive growth,” said Dr. M. Ray Perryman, Director of the Waco Perryman Group.
As if that wasn’t enough, Texas ranked 41st nationwide in spending per student, he said.
About 88 percent of the students were economically disadvantaged, as Perryman’s figures show.
“Show us the money. The Texas Children deserve it, and Texas fate demands it, ”Perryman said.
The original CARES bill provided significant funding to aid schools in this effort, and while some of the funds sent to Texas ended up in local districts, the Texas State Comptroller has recognized that much of the money was being used to offset other expenses, Perryman said.
In other words, these funds replaced, rather than complement, existing public school resources, Perryman says.
He said the two most recent stimulus measures both recognized the gravity of the situation and made substantial payments to restore the education system.
“Texas is receiving a total of around $ 17.9 billion, of which around 90 percent is expected to go to local schools,” Perryman said.
“Many states have already distributed the funds, and institutions across the country are rapidly implementing innovative initiatives to meet their special needs. However, flexibility is essential.”
The federal programs allow the money to be spent over three years, a practical recognition of the effort required to fully handle the enormous scale of the task at hand.
“At the time I write, Texas is well into the two-year budget cycle but has not yet released the funds or even put in place a mechanism to ensure they are delivered without the distractions.” Perryman said.
“The needs of areas in the vast and diverse expanse of Texas vary greatly, and districts need the resources quickly to sustain the rebuilding and improvements that need to take place.”
Recent studies estimate the learning loss in the past year at an average of five to nine months, with more than 10 percent of students being completely decoupled.
“These losses came despite the Herculean efforts of districts and hero professionals across the state to react quickly and deal with a rapidly evolving crisis that had never been thought of before,” Perryman said.
“Overcoming this massive deficit and building the workforce that is vital to future prosperity and competitiveness requires urgent and immediate action.
“It also requires money – for longer days and hours, teacher training, technology, broadband, tutoring, public relations, equipment, ventilation, materials, remodeling spaces, staff, interventions, complementary learning opportunities, and even nutrition for a significant portion of the students and their families, one absolutely essential ingredient for success. “
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