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School Districts Prepare For Massive Layoffs As Pandemic Funding Ends

School districts across the country are preparing for potential job cuts and reduced pay raises as a significant portion of pandemic-related federal funding is about to expire.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants, which have supported students with mental health and academic challenges stemming from COVID-19, will end in September. These funds have been instrumental in hiring additional staff such as counselors and reading specialists, but these positions are now at risk.

“[T]he loss of federal ESSER funding will mean that we cannot bring back the additional acceleration teachers, on-site tutors and other supports such as literacy and math programs that have been critical to the growth we’ve achieved thus far,” Patricia Brantley, CEO of Friendship Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C.  told The Hill.

Through the pandemic, school districts received about $200 million in ESSER funding, and now the loss of funding could result in a reduction of more than $1,000 per student.

Lindsay Dworkin, senior vice president of policy and government affairs at the Northwest Evaluation Association, highlighted the struggle districts face in maintaining teacher and support staff levels. “Some salary increases and augmenting wages have been part of what districts have used that pandemic money to support. So it is absolutely true that it will be hard for districts to sustain all of that at a time when funds are running out,” she said.

Texas school districts are particularly affected by the loss of federal funding, as there has been no significant increase in per-pupil funding since 2019, and Gov. Greg Abbot remains reluctant to propose a bill to increase state funding without a voucher proposal attached.

A new report also highlighted that inflation-adjusted per-pupil funding for public schools has declined since Abbott took office.

Some of the largest school districts in Texas, such as Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Houston ISD, are facing huge deficits of $138 million and $450 million, respectively. Both districts have announced massive layoffs to deal with their deficits.

With no additional federal funding and no hope of an increase in state funding, schools are seeking local tax support and negotiating lower pay raises to retain pandemic-era staff.

“In some states, we’re just going to see really flat or nonexistent pay raises this year, and that will be how they can make ends meet without trying to eliminate these positions,” Marguerite Roza, a research professor and director of the Edunomics Lab told The Hill.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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