Abilene ISD feeling out how to spend $42M in COVID-19 funds


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On the eve of the final day of school, Abilene ISD’s superintendent is not bidding farewell to another turbulent academic year, but instead aspires to have a less “exciting” fall term.

“It has been a school year like no other,” said Dr. David Young, AISD Superintendent.

In another school year marked with strife because of the pandemic, Dr.Young says a focus of his and other district leaders will be recovering from the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, surveys for the district’s ESSER III funds were due by 8 p.m. – that deadline preceded by in-person and Zoom meetings at the One AISD building earlier the same day.

The federal funding will be used over the next 3 years to help AISD recover from COVID-19. Around $42 million will be allocated to the district, who must first draft a plan to send to the Texas Education Agency detailing how the money will be used.

So, how will it be used? That is the input the district wanted from parents, students, staff and community members through the survey, says Dr.Young.

Dr.Young said some early responses to the survey showed a desire to keep classroom sizes small, as well as a concern for improving tutoring resources for students.

“That is coming in loud and clear from our public, from our staff,” said Dr. Young. “It’s not just going to be an after school tutoring program or a summer school program, this is a multi-year issue that we’re gonna have to really work on.”

Dr. Young said he wouldn’t change much about the district’s response to the virus over the last year, as being overly wary seemed to be a better option for students’ and staff’s sakes.

“The worries we had at the beginning of the school year, some of those things look trivial, but you know, we erred on the side of caution and the side of kids,” said Dr. Young.

The administrator says some features of the pandemic could continue into AISD’s future – namely providing remote learning resources for students when they are not on campus.

“Ways to connect with kids that have questions at night about their homework,” said Dr. Young. “I think those are great things that we’re more positioned to do more successfully now than we probably were a year ago.”

The final day of school is May 27, 2021. The first day of the next academic year will be August 19, 2021.

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