There's almost $20 billion the state has not yet released. School officials and education advocates like Kevin Brown are urging state officials to stop withholding the money.
"It's very important for the state of texas that we get this right, this money cant linger at the state, it cant be diverted away from K-12, and in fact, it needs to get to the classroom," said Brown.
That sentiment was echoed in an op-ed by the school board presidents from Leander and Austin. They wrote: "If Central Texas public schools are ever going to have a chance to make up for lost time, we need the money Congress provided for local schools."
This week several Texas congressional Democrats sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott telling him the money Congress authorized has a purpose. They wrote:
"These funds were intended to help schools address learning loss, meet mental health challenges with the increase of youth suicide, provide tutoring and remedial assistance, close the digital divide, improve ventilation and a host of other locally-determined needs."
There is a concern if some of the federal money is not used soon, the state will lose it. "Most states, something like 44 states at last count, have already had that money flow through to local schools in order to create a budget, we know they are trying to get some things rights, there's logistics to this, but there is also a sense of urgency," said Brown.
Earlier this year, the governor sent a request asking federal authorities for a waiver from the federal rules for the money. He noted the state has beefed up the education budget in 2019, but there is a budget shortfall because of lower oil and gas prices and the financial impact from the winter storm.
The major hang-up is in order to access the relief package, the state has to shift more than a billion dollars to higher education. Trying to figure out how to keep all the money for K -12, state officials claim, is a big reason for the delay.
"In fairness, we just got federal guidelines earlier this week, and those are complicated so I'm empathic to budget writers and state leaders who are trying to decipher all of that and to make sure it's dispersed in the correct way," said Brown.