Thursday, September 2, 2010

TEA highlights how much school districts might lose out

The Texas Education Agency posted a news release this week with some old – at least by news industry standards – information.

It was a breakdown of how much each Texas school district stands to gain if the state and U.S. Department of Education can come to an agreement on how Texas can access $830 million available through the jobs bill passed by Congress last month, and how much the amount could've been if Texas were allowed to distribute the money through state funding formulas instead of Title I.

Newspapers have been reporting on the same numbers for the past week or more.

It's an interesting point to bring up at a time when no public announcement has been made about whether Texas will even apply for the money. It's been a week since representatives from the Texas Education Agency and the governor's office met with the feds to discuss the stalemate, and with the deadline of September 9 just days away, still no news.

The jobs bill allows U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to send federal aid to states that apply for it. The money can be used to cover teachers' salaries and a host of other school-based programs and several states are already receiving their cut.

But the so-called Doggett amendment that applies only to Texas, included in the bill by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, requires that the money flow through Title I and that Gov. Rick Perry assure the feds that the percentage of state dollars earmarked for schools would not drop for the next three years before Texas can draw down any of the money.

Doggett says he wants to make sure the money is spent for education, not used to plug a budget deficit. Perry says the state Constitution does not allow him to make such assurances. And so, the standoff.

Meanwhile, the school year has started with roughly half of Texas school districts adopting deficit budgets this year, according to the Texas Association of School Board Officials, and at least one district has approved a teacher pay raise that's dependent on the federal help.

Here's hoping we have an answer soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment