As state faces billion-dollar losses due to COVID-19, Central Austin educators brace for financial blow

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas schools are preparing for a massive blow in funding for education, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a severe financial impact on the state.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hagar reported a 9.3% year-over-year drop in-state sales tax revenue for April, adding that May revenues could be even worse. The loss of billions of dollars in revenue will inevitably impact state and local education budgets, according to education leaders.

“The size of the wave is still a little hard to know because it’s still pretty far out to sea but it’s entirely possible that we have a tsunami headed toward us,” said Monty Exter, senior lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators.

It’s unclear what the direct impact will be on Central Texas schools, though school districts throughout the region are preparing for change.

Austin and Leander Independent School Districts believe strong rainy day funds will help weather the storm, while Pflugerville ISD hasn’t made any changes to programs and raises are still planned for next school year.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) was asked last week by Williamson County business leaders whether the federal government needs to step in to help schools. He wasn’t ready to commit to more spending.

Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, said Congress must include $170 billion in support for public education in its next relief bill.

“It’s a mistake to not think that we have a federal responsibility to ensure that we are stepping up to shore up our school districts and our state budgets, just like they did after the 2008 recession,” Candelaria said.

KXAN Politics Reporter John Engel is breaking down which programs are in jeopardy, and how local school districts plan to adjust, tonight at 6 p.m.

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