AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced an adjustment that could impact school districts that have seen a decline in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a press release from the governor's office, Texas school districts may be eligible for an adjustment in operational minutes requirements for certain attendance periods during the current school year.
This means funding will be made available to school systems that have experienced a drop in attendance rates because of the lingering impacts of the pandemic, given this year's emphasis on in-person instruction. The release states that this adjustment would apply to the first four reporting periods of the 2021-22 academic school year.
"Providing this adjustment to the 2021-22 school year will ensure school systems have the funding they need to retain the best and brightest teachers and provide quality education to all public school students across Texas," Abbott said. "We have made tremendous strides to return more of our students back to the classroom, and will continue in our efforts to do so."
"In recent years, the Texas Legislature has taken steps both to significantly increase funding for Texas public schools, and also to focus the structure of the finance system firmly on the needs of our students," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. "This adjustment further accounts for COVID-19-related learning disruptions, and is yet another way we’re prioritizing the needs of our state’s teachers and students."
The release explains that in non-pandemic times, schools are funded based on the number of students enrolled and the daily attendance on campus. The release states that the TEA has prioritized flexibility to ensure funding support for school systems by providing full funding based on daily attendance, whether students attended in-person or remotely.
According to the release, for the current academic year, this operational minute adjustment will result in the exclusion of operational minutes during the instructional days when schools have low percentage attendance rates in order to ensure that school districts have the funding they need to provide a high-quality education to all Texas students. The adjustment does not, however, "hold a district harmless for losses of ADA due to enrollment declines."
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