WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — As the Wichita Falls ISD and City View ISD prepare to take advantage of more COVID-19 relief funds the public will now get a say in how the money is spent.
It’s required the public know about when their district applies for this federal grant. Now both Texoma districts are preparing for input.
It’s no secret education funding took a big hit thanks to the pandemic.
“Spending money in areas where we had not before, we spent a lot of money on cleaning, we went over our budget at least 300%,” City View ISD Superintendent Tony Bushong said. “We ate through that budget by October.”
Any extra money goes a long way. Especially since Bushong says the T.E.A kept previous federal funds.
“We needed them to give us that money and our legislators stepped up and passed something about a month ago that said T.E.A. is going to release those funds to the school districts,” Bushong said.
The federal government, through the American Rescue Plan, is providing money to school districts by way of the elementary and secondary school emergency relief III-fund or ESSER-III.
There’s $11.2 billion ready to go to our state to address student learning loss.
“Over 1,300 students are still remote, have never been in school this year and so, we’re not saying they all had learning loss but some of them have and then a lot of our students, we started with close to 4,000 that were remote weren’t here for a big part of the year so they missed out on stuff,” WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt said.
“Our kids fell behind, we saw it in elementary all the way through high school, but especially in elementary. We saw kids in kindergarten, first grade, second grade that really took steps back in reading,” Bushong said.
Bushong is getting a group of parents and students together to help decide where the money is most needed.
“We wanna hear from our stakeholders and make sure that they’re bought in,” Bushong said. “Our school district is set to get about $1.7 million, 80 percent of that has to be spent one and then 20 percent has to address other needs.”
“It’s about $31.2 million for Wichita Falls ISD. We’re just basically waiting to figure out the details, what can we use it for, what can’t we use them for, so in other words we cant build a building with these funds but we can use them to replace hvac systems,” Kuhrt said.
Kuhrt says public input and the district advisory committee will play a key role in dispersing the funds.
“We’re working through it and we’ll see how the plan turns out,” Kuhrt said.
As school districts remain in recovery mode, this extra relief becomes a welcomed test for administrators. The ESSER-III funds have to be spent by September 30, 2024.