Show us the money! The kids of Texas deserve it, and the fortunes of Texas demand it. Stay safe! Texas schools are the lifeblood of our communities and the linchpin to our destiny. They should receive these funds without any unnecessary delays, restrictions, drama, or shenanigans. Dr. M. Ray Perryman is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Perryman Group (www.perrymangroup.com), which has served the needs of over 2,500 clients over the past four decades.
The two recent stimulus measures both acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and provided extensive payments to aid in restoring the education system. Texas is receiving about $17.9 billion in total, about 90% of which is expected to go to local schools. Many states have already distributed the funds, and institutions around the country are rapidly implementing innovative initiatives to address their unique needs. Flexibility is essential. The federal programs allow the money to be spent over three years, a practical recognition of the effort required to fully address the enormity of the task at hand. The original CARES Act provided substantial funding to support schools in these efforts. While some of these funds that came to Texas ended up in local districts, the Comptroller has acknowledged that much of the money was used to offset other outlays. In other words, it supplanted, rather than supplemented, existing public school resources.
As of the time that I am writing, Texas is well into the biennial budget cycle but has not yet released the funds or even created a mechanism to assure that they will be provided without any diversions. The needs of areas across the vast and diverse expanse that is Texas vary markedly, and districts need the resources expeditiously to sustain the rebuilding and enhancements that must occur. Overcoming this massive deficit and building the workforce that is absolutely essential to future prosperity and competitiveness requires urgent and immediate action. It also requires money – for extended days and hours, teacher training, technology, broadband, tutoring, outreach, equipment, ventilation, materials, revamping spaces, personnel, interventions, supplemental learning opportunities, and even nutrition for a substantial portion of students and their families (an absolutely essential ingredient for success).
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