Amarillo leaders discuss importance of federal stimulus money

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A six-foot tall three-legged stool arrived at south Georgia Elementary with a message, fund Texas education recovery.

The stool, has been touring the state with the organization Raise Your Hand Texas, and today was its eight and final stop in Amarillo.

The three-legged stool represents the three components necessary for the Texas education system’s recovery (fulfill the promise of HB3, hold schools harmless and flow federal funds to public schools).

To discuss the importance of federal stimulus dollars for public schools, Raise Your Hand Texas was joined by K-12 and higher education leaders, along with city and county officials.

Last month, it was announced that Texas will begin distributing $11.2 billion from the third round of federal stimulus for education.

An announcement that came after education advocates urged the state to release the money.

“They stood up on the house floor and said we have to release these federal dollars,” said Doug Loomis, Amarillo ISD superintendent. “We have to give it to our schools.”

“That’s what we’re doing here today, sending a message of ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Let’s get the job done’ in the few weeks that we have in this legislative session left,” said Skylar Gallop, Panhandle regional advocacy director at Raise Your Hand Texas.

The funds have yet to be sent out, but once they are, AISD could be receiving anywhere from $42 to $70 million.

“Before we spend one dollar of this money that is coming our direction,” said Loomis. “We’re gonna stop and have community meetings. We got a community meeting of over 100 stakeholders that’s schedule for the very first of June. Next week, we will start with parent teacher focus groups.”

Gayla Martin is a fourth grade reading and social studies teacher at South Georgia Elementary, she says the funds should be directed towards having full time nurses and counselors at schools.

“They’re working double duty and then you’re having other people having to fill in that aren’t adequately trained in that area,” said Martin.

Martin also says it’s important to have more tutors and substitute teachers.

“During the quarantine time, we had a lot of times where we couldn’t get substitutes,” said Martin. “The pay is not great so then substitutes don’t want to risk themselves with that with poor pay rate.”

AISD superintendent also recognizes there are huge educational gaps that will have to be overcome.

He also praised the hard work of all teachers and school workers throughout this pandemic.

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