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West Texas schools are excited to finally get a piece of $11.2 billion in federal funding

Local school district leaders expect to have a Zoom meeting with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Thursday.
Credit: Junction ISD

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Local superintendents are overwhelmed, yet excited to now be able to have the opportunity to get in on the $11.2 billion federal funds. 

Texas state leaders released the federal education funds for schools to work towards rebuilding back up their schools and help bridge the gap for students who may be falling behind because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This fund aims to help public schools build back up what they lost and bridge the gap for students because of these losses.

Junction Independent School District leaders said they are relieved now they can take advantage of these funds. The school provided its students with electronic devices back when COVID first started. They were also utilizing learning management systems to help continue to push through. 

Junction ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Carter said time due to all of the changes in the school system set them back, and they hope to use this funding to bridge the gap to bring their entire student body up to speed.

"We're just trying to figure out all of the do's, and they don't. The spacing and all of the protocols in place and that just took up so much time," Carter said. 

He said one of the challenges of being a small school district is having enough personnel to work to help fill the gaps so their students can be able to progress forward. 

Carter said it is quite a bit of money, and the district is trying to wrap its head around where to start exactly. However, he already some ideas of where the funds can benefit their schools. 

"Maybe we can use the money to entice our staff to put a little bit more time in and individual attention in afterschool hours. Maybe some afterschool resources there so we can do some enrichment in that area," Carter said. 

Junction ISD was fortunate to have school all year long. Its school district missed more days during the winter storm than school days missed when COVID-19 first hit. 

However, Junction ISD's school attendance has been down, but they hope to give these students the needed individualized attention and wish to use these funds to help make this happen. 

"We do have some kids who are not getting the face-to-face instruction like everybody else. So, what we hope to do is continue with what we've been doing, which is identify the gaps," Carter said. 

Schleicher Independent School District Superintendent Robert Gibson said its district expects to get $1.088 million in funding. He said they did pretty well with keeping their students up to speed outside of the classroom. 

"We felt like we did a very good job of not letting the students' academics slide. We were very blessed initially," Gibson said. 

However, they hope to use the money towards its ventilation system. 

"We hope to be able to upgrade our HBAC units and improve our ventilation throughout the school," Gibson said. "We hope to spend the money the best that we can. We're going to get input from the community, from administrators, teachers as the best way that we can to spend that money."  

Sonora Independent School said it is ready for the funds; however, they do not know what to spend it on. Sonora and other local school district leaders expect to have a Zoom meeting with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Thursday.