PORT ARTHUR, Texas — The education system has been through a lot in the last year, including losing a ton of money because of coronavirus-related problems.
Texas officials secured $17.9 billion through two federal coronavirus relief packages, but until Wednesday, school officials and lawmakers say schools hadn't seen a dime.
Now that part of the money has been released, superintendents across the state are writing up their wish lists.
Educators have been demanding more money to properly support their students and on their wish was granted.
“It's a huge relief. I think every superintendent in Texas will be able to sleep calmly softly tonight,” Port Arthur Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie.
Dr. Porterie said it's all because of one announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott.
“We are extremely excited about the announcement concerning the ESA grants. It is something that we have been looking forward to and not exactly knowing when it would come, but today we really received the letter actual letter that,” Dr. Porterie said.
$11.2 billion in new federal funding is heading to public schools to address students learning loss and costs incurred due to the pandemic. For Dr. Porterie and his team, there's a laundry list of things they can’t wait to tackle with new funding.
“We were going to make sure that we are meeting the professional development needs of our staff members, we have technology that we want to purchase,” Dr. Porterie said. “We have summer school learning that we want to extend. So, we have a lot of ideas about that recruitment. We have facilities.”
These one-time funds are intended to support a comprehensive learning recovery effort in Texas over the next three years.
The Texas State Teachers Association released a statement on Wednesday saying, "The Texas State Teachers Association is pleased that their demands are beginning to pay off for Texas school children."
Dr. Porterie said this last school year forced them to stretch the money they already had to make ends meet.
“COVID was something that was unknown, and when it came, it came with a lot of expense, not only mental experience but a lot of financial instruments as well in order to meet the needs of staff and students,” Dr. Porterie said.
So, with new funds on the way, Porterie is determined to give students the proper tools to help them succeed.
“Our kids deserve so much,” Dr. Porterie said. “They're children, and they deserve everything we can possibly give them, and that is where we're headed, and we want to make sure that they are well compensated with this money.”