AUSTIN, Texas - The future of funding for public schools in Texas is still uncertain after the third Special Session ended this week and the fourth began.
As lawmakers struggle to find a middle ground on a voucher deal, districts across the state are looking after their own funding in an effort to survive the continued gridlock.
FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas spoke with Ida Misgrove, executive director of the Hays CISD Education Foundation, about what the district is doing to fund for the future.
REBECCA THOMAS: So with funding tied up in the legislature, school districts are trying everything from bond propositions to tax rate elections to make ends meet. But Hays is doing something a bit different. Give us some background on the Education Foundation.
IDA MOSGROVE: Yeah, so we've been in existence for quite a while, but most recently, last school year, our school board and our Education Fund foundation board came together and decided that in light of the uncertain funding from the legislature and our increased need and our increased dependence on our own reserves, that we needed to find a way to up our game for our foundation. And so we're reaching out to the community and area businesses to make sure that we can actually not only fill gaps, but fund excellence for our school district.
REBECCA THOMAS: So the foundation is offering a variety of grants for campuses, classrooms and students. How are these grants funded?
IDA MOSGROVE: Well, they're funded with all the kind donations that our area businesses in our communities donate to the foundation. And in that collective, we pull the grants out through the school district. And once they review those applications.
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REBECCA THOMAS: Like the rest of central Texas, Hays County is growing fast. What kind of challenges are you facing as the population expands?
IDA MOSGROVE: Well, again, in light of our uncertain funding and dependent reserves, at the same time, we're having a very fast-growing enrollment and needs for the students that are in the district. So our challenges are trying to meet those demands and meet the needs of our growing population while not necessarily knowing how the state is going to fund our basic needs.
REBECCA THOMAS: Right. So you're trying to, you know, keep up with the growing population, handle the current needs. But what about the future? How do you not neglect future needs or how do you plan for that?
IDA MOSGROVE: Absolutely. I'm glad you're asking that. Absolutely. And that is a big challenge for us because we're so concerned about right now the holes that we're trying to fill, the gaps that we're trying to fill with the foundation for the basic needs that are not being met primarily because of the uncertainty with the legislature. But we will continue to strive towards funding excellence. And that goes back to the plea that we're making out to our district, to our community, to our area, businesses who are coming together and finding ways to partner and provide funds, provide time and talent to provide those services for our students and our teachers to provide excellence in the classroom as well.
REBECCA THOMAS: Again, we still don't know what's going to happen, but if the state legislature passes a school voucher plan and takes funding from public schools in favor of private schools, how would the foundation pick up the slack?
IDA MOSGROVE: Well, we just have to fundraise a lot more and reach out a lot more to a lot more of our growing districts. We have a lot of businesses and homes being built out here, and we're going to take advantage of that fast growth and help educate everybody so that they understand why we need to come together to fill those gaps.