The Texas Education Agency estimates Hurricane Harvey caused $1.64 billion worth of damage to public schools in the state.
After Harvey affected dozens of campuses, educators and lawmakers are afraid that some schools won’t be able to recover from a downward spiral. Now TEA says it has a strategy that may save school systems that saw declines in enrollment from losing funding.
Alejandra Matos, a politics and government reporter for the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau, says that schools are funded based on their average attendance.
“A lot of these displaced families have had to go to different districts,” Matos says. “Then that leaves the home district, their original district, with a deficit because now they don’t have that child there.”
Education Commissioner Mike Morath’s new plan may protect vulnerable school funding.
“He is proposing using a three-year attendance average,” Matos says. “And then use that calculation to keep funding so that schools are, as he said, held harmless if they lost students at those schools.”
Meanwhile, other schools are dealing with a different problem. Some schools report an influx of displaced students and they don’t have the money to pay for that, either.
Matos says three districts have applied already for an adjustment to cover 930 extra students.
Written by Jen Rice.