Public schools hope second and third stimulus provide more funding after first gave little hope

Waco ISD promised $5M, given $440,000
Posted at 5:07 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 01:31:20-04

WACO, TX — Public schools did not receive the funding they should have from the CARES Act passed last March. Waco ISD only received 8% of what they were originally promised.

"We were pessimistic from the get-go," said Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon.

Waco ISD was supposed to receive more than $5 million in COVID-19 relief from the first stimulus bill, but they only received $440,000. This may seem like a lot of money, but for a school district of their size, it barely brushes the surface of total costs.

"In a district of 15,000 students, when you're providing devices, technology devices, PPE and overtime pay for nurses this year, it just doesn't go very far," Dr. Kincannon said.

You might be wondering how something like this happens. Well, when funding was passed on the federal level, the money went to the state. State educational leaders then took that money and replaced it with already existing funding public schools were receiving from the state. Whatever was left over is what districts got.

"That money was swapped or supplanted, and the money made it to schools, but the exact amount of state money was withdrawn," JoLisa Hoover said.

Hoover is the Central Texas Advocacy Director for Raise Your Hand Texas, a group working to make sure public schools are receiving the funding they deserve.

"Texas was one of the few states that chose to not send money directly to the schools," Hoover said.

Officials say now is the time for the community to raise their hand and speak up on why they feel their public schools should receive the correct funding. Hoover suggests reaching our to your Texas Legislator.

"Elected officials don't know how we feel until we talk to them, so it's always great to have a relationship with the people you elect and make sure they understand the needs on the ground," Hoover said.

The second and third stimulus checks still hang in the balance as schools wait patiently for their funding. Waco ISD is supposed to receive nearly $72 million.

"We know are kids have struggled this past year in a number of ways, and we want to provide services to them, and it costs money," Dr. Kincannon said.

The big question remains if they'll see the full $72 million. Raise Your Hand Texas won't stop advocating for schools, which have helped countless times during the pandemic.

"They have served in such a wonderful emergency capacity, and now they need the assistance so they can work in the recovery section. So the more people that can reach out and say that, the more likely it is that schools will get this money," Hoover said.

Killeen ISD is set to receive $119.3 million from the second and third stimulus packages. Temple ISD should receive $41.1 million while Belton ISD is set to receive $16.3 million. That money is currently sitting with the state, so those numbers could change.

No matter the amount schools receive, Dr. Kincannon says their students are always a top priority.

"We need the resources to be able to do some additional things for our kids in the upcoming years, to provide the support that they need to be successful in light of the learning loss of COVID-19," Dr. Kincannon said.

Waco ISD’s total COVID-19 expenditures since last March was just under $7.5 million. Purchases included technology devices for students and staff, social distancing signage and personal protective equipment.

Out of the $7.5 million, Waco ISD received just under $6.7 million in federal funds tied to the CARES Act. However, the state reduced its share of the district's funding by $4.7 million. Effectively, Waco ISD received only $1.9 million of the $6.7 million in COVID-19 funding because of the reduction in state funding.

To learn more on how schools and Texas have used CARES Act funding, visit Raise Your Hand Texas.