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After Months Of Waiting, Texas Schools To Get $11.2B In Pandemic Relief

An Austin Independent School District student in the classroom during the pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT
An Austin Independent School District student in the classroom during the pandemic.

From Texas Standard:

After months of delays, state leaders announced this week that Texas would start distributing $11.2 billion in federal aid to help students recover from learning loss during the pandemic. It comes after some Democrats and school leaders pressed Gov. Greg Abbott to begin distributing the money that was approved for use months ago.

Emily Donaldson is a reporter for The Dallas Morning News Education Lab. She told Texas Standard that Texas had been slow to distribute the funding, compared to other states. But now that the state is picking up the pace, the money can go toward things like additional classes and mental health services to help catch kids up for the next school year.

“The general sense is there has been tremendous learning loss for everybody. So this money is really meant to help kids recover from that learning loss,” she said.

The Texas Education Agency doles out the funds, and Title I schools in lower-income communities will get a larger proportion of the money. Every district that wants funding has to submit a plan for its use to the TEA. Donaldson says some districts will get millions. For example, Dallas Independent School District will get $362 million. Texas is awaiting federal approval to distribute another round of funding at a later date.

Donaldson says the funds have to be used within three years, and they’ll be used for “one-time” expenses like hiring tutors to help students get back on track after more than a year of hybrid or remote learning.

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Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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