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82 Texas House members ask TEA to give school districts financial flexibility through end of school year

Texas Rep. Steve Allison wrote a letter to the TEA asking to 'continue the Hold Harmless Guarantee' for the rest of the 2020-21 school year.

AUSTIN, Texas — Eighty-two Texas lawmakers are asking the State to assure full funding to all school districts through the rest of the year. In a letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, State Rep. Steve Allison wrote, "Our school districts need full funding so they can continue to focus on student learning and mental health."

"I'm optimistic that we're going to get it accomplished," said Allison. "We know there's going to be continuing obligations and concerns with the pandemic and otherwise, but the concern and the interest is just to make sure that our schools are fully funded through the school year."

If the financial flexibility isn't extended through the end of the school year, some school districts, like Austin ISD, have to make tough decisions. For example, when AISD prepares for possible closures after winter break as COVID-19 cases rise, school district leaders have to make a choice based on whether or not it'll get funding from the State.

Allision said school districts have been through enough.

"They're highly dependent on the funding. So to preserve our programs, to avoid having to lay off any personnel, teachers or otherwise, reduce programs and make sure that we have everything fully funded," said Allison.

The Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) agrees. The president, Ovidia Molina, said schools can't afford funding cuts, especially in the middle of a health crisis. 

"The governor needs to know this. Educators are the professionals, the administrators, all adults in the school building who make it possible to have the best education for our students," said Molina. 

The TSTA also said it urges Gov. Greg Abbott to allow schools to end in-person instruction until every educator who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can get one.

"The Texas State Teachers Association encourages every school employee who is 65 or older or who has underlying health conditions to take the COVID vaccine, if their physicians approve. But our public schools and students will not be safe until every educator who wants a vaccine can get one," said Molina in a press release. "It may be several months before we have enough vaccine doses to cover all educators and the other high-risk groups. So, we need Gov. Greg Abbott to take other overdue steps to protect all our students and school employees from this deadly pandemic."

Allision said he hopes the TEA commissioner will make sure Texas education is protected.

The TEA hasn't made a decision yet on whether or not to extend the "Hold Harmless Guarantee," but Rep. Allision said the TEA told him it is working on it. 

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