SAN ANTONIO – School districts across Bexar County are planning how they will use millions of federal dollars heading their way.
State leaders recently announced they are releasing $11.2 billion in federal pandemic relief funding to help public schools.
“We are just very grateful that this funding is coming. There are so many needs for students. Sixty-one thousand students are going to come back to us in the fall, and we may not know what their invisible needs are -- whether they be mental health, social, emotional challenges or learning loss. And so we are very grateful to have this very important funding coming our way,” said Aubrey Chancellor, executive director of communications at North East ISD.
Chancellor said the district wants to invest in mental health resources.
“When everyone returns, we know they’re going to come back with some things that we are going to need to really address,” she said.
The district will also use the federal funds for summer school.
“We usually have summer school at a handful of our campuses. But this coming summer, we’re going to offer it at 24 different locations. We expect to have thousands more than what we typically have, and so that is going to cost millions more than it typically would. So that is important because we really need to see where students are,” Chancellor said.
Every school district has been allocated different amounts of funding. For North East ISD, it’s more than $117 million, and Northside ISD received more than $172 million.
“The funds can be spent over a roughly three-year period of time,” said Brian Woods, Northside ISD Superintendent.
Woods said addressing mental health is also a top priority.
“We also know that some families have experienced some emotional trauma in the last 13 months, and that’s going to have to be addressed and that we’ll need some staff to help us over a period of two or three years to do that, as well,” Woods said.
Woods said funds could also be used to help students get back on track.
“One of which, obviously, is with certified teachers who can work with perhaps smaller groups of students to help them remediate,” Woods said.
Woods said the money could also go toward technology and improving the air quality at older schools.
“It took Texas a little while to get here longer than a lot of states, but I’m glad that we finally are here, and they’ve released the funds to schools across our state. I think the planning process will be a good one, and it’ll allow schools to put together a plan that really helps their kids catch up from what’s been a pretty traumatic 13 months for kids and teachers,” Woods said.
Each school district needs to come up with a comprehensive plan. The deadline to apply is in July.
San Antonio ISD released the following statement regarding the funds:
“These funds allow us to confidently plan our budget for next school year, which begins July 1; and shortly, thereafter, our Summer Jumpstart program begins July 19. Because of these funds, we are able to proactively address student learning loss and support children’s mental health as a result of the prolonged pandemic.”