State leadership finally releases federal funds to schools

Legislators begin work hammering out differences in House and Senate budgets

Our efforts to #StopTheSwap are working. Gov. Abbott announced Wednesday that $11.2 billion in federal aid for Texas schools will start flowing directly to districts. 

“Finally, districts are able to start the process for getting federal aid to our classrooms,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo. “This is a positive first step in getting the funds our schools need. It’s unfortunate that it took nearly two months of pushing the governor to get to this point. Many districts that have been contemplating cuts related to pandemic expenses can now implement plans to help students catch up.”

In a new release the governor said the additional federal funds—about $6.7 billion—from the federal aid packages will be available after the Texas Education Agency works with the U.S. Department of Education on requirements tied to the funding. The release noted that TEA will resolve those issues by the end of the legislative session on May 31. TEA also published guidance for districts to access funds, as well as a list of districts with the amount of money designated to each.

“It’s clear that our legislators were listening to our calls to release the funds,” Capo said. “Texas House members rallied behind a state budget amendment by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez last week requiring the state to release the funds and prohibiting it from using the money for existing budget needs. Rodriguez’s amendment and overwhelming support from legislators spurred the governor to take action.”

The morning after the governor’s announcement, budget conferees met  to begin reconciling differences in the Senate and House versions of the budget.

Senate conferees include: Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound)) Joan Huffman (R-Houston), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), and Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). Notably, they are all Republicans and no members of color were appointed.

House conferees include: Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso), Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), Terry Wilson (R-Georgetown), Armando Walle (D-Houston).