Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today announced that certain school districts and charter schools within the Governor’s state disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey will be eligible for an adjustment to their average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the 2017-2018 school year, holding them harmless for losses of funding due to enrollment declines stemming from the storm.
“Many of our school systems have seen major disruptions in their communities because of Hurricane Harvey,” said Commissioner Morath. “This one-time adjustment is meant to bring some certainty for the remainder of this school year as school leaders face a number of major financial decisions following this devastating storm.”
“Many Texas schools have suffered setbacks following Hurricane Harvey, but Texas is committed to ensuring that our students continue to receive the best education possible,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “I commend Commissioner Morath and the Texas Education Agency for their efforts to get our students back on track and helping ease the burdens on school districts impacted by the storm. We will continue to work diligently to limit disruption in education while our schools and communities continue to recover and rebuild.”
Because average daily attendance is a major component in determining Foundation School Program (FSP) funds, a loss of ADA would normally result in a loss of FSP funding or an increase in recapture obligations.
To mitigate against these changes in FSP funding for the 2017–2018 school year, Commissioner Morath is exercising his authority to adjust ADA for affected districts during the 2017–2018 school year.
The Texas Education Code provides the Commissioner authority to adjust the ADA of a school district in which a disaster, flood, extreme weather condition, fuel curtailment, or other calamity has a significant effect on the district’s attendance. This funding adjustment by the Commissioner comes after discussions with superintendents, as well as consultation with state leadership including the offices of the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House.
“Almost a month ago, I met with many superintendents whose districts were impacted by the hurricane,” said Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. “I pledged my support for increasing funding for schools that gain students because of displacement from the storm and holding funding at current levels for schools that lose students because of displacement. This will allow those schools to get back to full operation far more quickly. I commend Commissioner Morath for his leadership on this issue. We guarded the Rainy Day Fund this past session so that we would have the resources to handle this kind of disaster. We will need every dollar available to us moving forward.”
“The Texas House wants to make sure that schools are not punished for enrollment declines caused by Harvey,” said Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. “This decision will provide funding certainty for schools as they continue to cope with Harvey’s aftermath and as legislators look closely at other ways the storm affected public education. I want to thank Commissioner Morath for listening to the concerns raised by House members on behalf of their constituents.”
School systems were notified today of the Commissioner’s decision. In its notification, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) advised superintendents this is a one-time adjustment that will only be made for the 2017–2018 school year. TEA has established the following criteria for school districts and charter schools to be eligible for an ADA adjustment:
- The school district or charter school has had damage to at least one campus which has resulted in a disruption of instruction lasting two or more weeks, OR
- The school district or charter school had instructional facilities that were closed for the nine or 10 hurricane related waiver days; AND
- The school district or charter school must complete the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas Worksheet by Oct. 27, 2017.
It is important to note that school systems must be within the Governor’s 60-county state disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey to be eligible. Additional factors will be considered on a case by case basis.
TEA has preliminarily identified school systems within the state disaster declaration area that may meet the eligibility requirements. Although these school systems have been identified, they are subject to verification, pending submission of the required information.
To read the notification sent to school districts and charter schools (as well as the list of school systems that may meet eligibility requirements and current eligibility status), visit the TEA website at https://tea.texas.gov/interiorpage_wide.aspx?id=51539617692.