Williamson County to allocate $12M in CARES Act funds to area school districts

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County commissioners approved allocating $12 million to area school districts as part of the county’s federal coronavirus relief funds.

The funding will go to Williamson County public schools, charter schools and private schools.

The aid will cap at $100 per student with the exception of smaller districts, which could be reimbursed up to $200 per student.

If a district’s total amount is less than $100,000 based on student population, such as Bartlett, Coupland and Thrall Independent School Districts, then they would be eligible for the lesser of $100,000 or $200 per student.

“We are in a unique position that I believe only seven counties in the State of Texas are in that got CARES Act funding,” said Williamson County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer. “It’s not going to cover all of their expenses, but I think we are in a position to do something to help.”

In order for a school district to qualify, it must submit CARES eligible expenses by Nov. 6. Only students enrolled in Williamson County will be eligible.

For a charter school to qualify, it must be a state-recognized school. Private schools in Williamson County must have at least 100 students, offer four grade levels and teach in-person classes at least three days a week.

The Leander Independent School District has students in both Williamson and Travis County. Of the district’s 43,000 students, nearly 30,000 reside in Williamson County which makes the district eligible for $2.9 million in CARES Act funding.

“Our budget was adopted back in June, and the unknowns were pretty large at that point,” Elaine Cogburg, Leander ISD chief financial officer. “We have several expenditures that have happened since July, August and September.”

Cogburn says the district planned to submit those expenditures to the Texas Education Agency under the ESSER funds, which last until the end of 2021. Roughly $709,00 is available to the Leander School District under the ESSER funds.

Cogburn says now that Williamson County has access to additional funds, the district can maximize what it will receive in the future and save the TEA dollars.

“We don’t know that we will have any revenue in the spring, and we will most likely continue to purchase PPE at that point,” said Cogburn. “We just don’t know what will happen until now and the end of May. ”

Leander ISD has purchased $1 million worth of big-ticket items due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those purchases include upgrading its Zoom license, purchasing extra surge protectors due the lack of classroom outlets, purchasing a screening app so students can self-assess before coming to school and installing more filters throughout the building HVAC systems.

“Just about every week, we have had a new need that has popped up,” said Cogburn.

Between the public, charter and private schools, there are roughly 113,000 students who would be eligible for funding in Williamson County.

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