TEA guarantees funding despite enrollment losses, but then announces a massive expansion for charter schools

This week, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced a six-week extension of current minimum funding established for the pandemic. This means that despite the enrollment decline in Texas public schools this year due to the pandemic, a funding guarantee that is based on prior year attendance is in place for the entire first half of the school year.

This extension ensures funding through the first 18 weeks of the first semester of the school year, regardless of changes to enrollment or attendance rates due to COVID-19.  Districts must also demonstrate an effort to allow for on-campus attendance. TEA will address funding adjustments for the second semester based upon information and data gathered between now and January 2021. Districts that use the additional extension will be required to identify students who are missing from enrollment and determine their location.

Also announced this week was the TEA approval of amendments allowing IDEA charter schools to expand with 12 new campuses and up to 15,000 new students. In a statement to the media, Texas AFT spokesperson Rob D’Amico said:

“While our true public schools face a pandemic and a likely fight against budget cuts next year, our governor-appointed education commissioner is opening the floodgates to a charter-school chain that has been embroiled in scandal the past two years. The IDEA executives responded to the backlash against their multi-million-dollar jets, luxury boxes, and extravagant parachute payments to their top management by asking our taxpayers to foot a bill for their massive expansion—an additional annual cost to the state of at least $16 million a year. If anything, IDEA should be stunted for its outrageous management, left to regroup, and get its act together. 

“But instead, the commissioner has rewarded the controversial charter handsomely. Over the last four years alone, the commissioner has approved 62 new IDEA campuses through the amendment process—more than any other charter chain in Texas.”