AUSTIN (KXAN) — Next year, census workers across the country will count who lives where.
It’s a key component to allocating federal and state dollars, and leaders at the Austin Independent School District want to get their share.
Monday, district and PTA leaders began their effort to ensure the 80,000 students and their families fill out Census forms in person or online. It’s the largest coordinated effort in memory.
AISD Board President Geronimo Rodriguez, Jr., District CBO and CFO Nicole Conley, Austin Council of PTA President Lynn Boswell, and PTA VP of Inclusion Vanessa Santamaria Dainton spoke to the press at Padron Elementary School Monday morning about the coordinated outreach effort. They say next year’s effort will involve every campus in the district.
“I think we realized we were leaving money on the table. We were leaving people uncounted,” said Lynn Boswell, President, of Austin Council of PTAs.
Boswell says staff and volunteers will be at school events, festivals, performances, and PTA meetings spreading the word.
“A place of trust. You have to tell people what the Census is. Why it’s important to fill out the Census. You also have to trust that it’s ok to fill the Census out,” said Boswell.
The district will focus on “hard to count” students, like those who are homeless, low-income, and with families who came here illegally.
President Trump’s administration attempted to put a citizenship question on the Census. That effort failed in the courts. Critics worried it would scare people who came to Texas illegally from answering the questions.
The stakes are high. Government dollars are connected to the Census count.
So if the districts get less from D.C. and the State, local taxpayers will pay more.
“Dollars are scarce and our students have infinite needs,” said Nicole Conley, Chief of Business & Operations and Chief Financial Officer for AISD.
The Census directs money to three main areas: the school lunch program and programs meant to help struggling students catch up like Title 1 and Head Start.
“They’re expecting to know more, do more, and perform at higher levels. So funding becomes critical,” said Conley.
Census workers and volunteers hope to count every household between April and July next year.
This past legislative session one lawmaker tried to get the state to fund outreach efforts for the census. El Paso Democratic Representative Cesar Blanco wanted to set up a complete count commission. It would have mobilized state agencies to contribute. That bill did not pass the legislature.
Just last month- the US Census Bureau opened two offices in Central Texas, one in Travis County and another in Williamson County. The offices will oversee about 20 counties including Bastrop, Hays, and part of the hill country.