Districts Trying To Keep State Funds For Mass Absences Caused By Fiesta Week Threat
School districts financially impacted by the mass student absence following a city wide school violence threat have the option to appeal the state’s withholding of funds.
Every time an individual student is absent, the school district he or she attends loses potential money from the Texas Education Agency.
On April 24th, thousands of parents held their students home from San Antonio schools under a threat that turned out to be a hoax. Northside ISD had 57 percent attendance that day and the district is poised to lose $1.4 million. SAISD had an attendance rate of 66 percent, and Northeast had 63 percent attendance.
The TEA offers a Low Attendance Waiver and Northside Superintendent Brian Woods told TPR’s "The Source" that they plan to file for it.
“I fully anticipate that these waivers will be granted and I think the bigger impact really is about lost instructional time and about anxiety to families and people who work in schools,” Woods said.
The TEA grants these waivers when the school district is open but attendance is compromised.
“They usually happen during times when you might have a health issue such as wide-spread flu or norovirus in a district," said DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokesperson. "Sometimes they could be requested based on district’s that might have undergone some type of severe weather but they were still open.”
Culbertson said the waiver requests are infrequent but are accepted for consideration when attendance falls below a certain percentage.
“It’s a formula that our waiver department and school funding department have worked out to where if it falls below ten percent from the overall attendance rate from your prior year,” Culbertson said.
Before it can be sent, the district’s board of trustees must vote to apply. It’s then up to the TEA to determine if the waiver can be awarded.
Board Members of the Northside ISD, and NEISD approved the waiver application. The SAISD will likely do so on May 19.