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Texas Allocates Another $123M in COVID Relief to Schools

The new round of funding will go toward digital skills, data analytics, the state’s educational and workforce data infrastructure, programs for front-line health care workers, special education, charter schools and more.

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(TNS) — Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that Texas will provide $123.3 million in federal COVID-19 relief money for education.

The final round of money from the relief fund came through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, a bill that includes nearly $82 billion in aid for education.

Congress initially established the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March 2020 to provide local educational agencies and higher education institutions with emergency assistance in response to the pandemic.

Through the relief fund, Texas has invested more than $362 million for higher education and $67.5 million for K-12 public education since the beginning of the pandemic. The state has previously allocated the governor’s relief money for items such as emergency student support, improving distance education course offerings, and information security and accessibility.

This round of funding includes $20 million for the Supplemental Special Education Services program, which provides grants to families of eligible students served by special education. It also includes $10 million for charter school grants to expand the number of charter schools in the state.

“The State of Texas remains committed to students and their success in our education systems — that includes ensuring parents have an option to send their kids to a high-quality charter school and providing direct support to families with children who have special needs,” Abbott said in a news release.

Texas also is providing $25 million to nurses for loan repayment, financial aid, and nursing education and $17.5 million for credentials for digital skills, data analytics and programs for front-line health care workers.

Other funding includes more than $30 million to improve student enrollment, retention and credential completion and $12.5 million for student financial aid programs, including transfer grants and the Texas Leadership Scholarship Program.

“In addition to Texas’ commitment to student success programs, this funding will help ensure that students of all ages will not only enter into a higher education program, but they will leave as quickly as possible with a high-value degree or credential,” Abbott said.

The remaining funding will support work to improve the state’s educational and workforce data infrastructure ($5 million) and Commercial Driver License training and repayment ($3 million).

“We have also quickly become a leader in workforce education, reskilling, and upskilling, and this additional funding will ensure a talent-strong Texas that continues to create and import jobs for decades to come,” Abbott said.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in the news release that Abbott and legislative leaders have made public education a top priority even as COVID-19 created various challenges for schools.

“For some of our most at-risk students, this significant new round of funding will prioritize getting families across Texas direct access to special education and other targeted supplemental services to support their children’s varied educational needs,” Morath said.

Harrison Keller, Texas commissioner of higher education, said state leaders recognized during the pandemic that investments in higher education are essential for Texas’ economic recovery and future competitiveness.

“This commitment reflects a vision that has allowed Texas to become one of only a few states that prioritized discretionary federal stimulus funds for higher education,” Keller said. “We are grateful for these strategic investments in building a talent strong Texas.”

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