Williamson County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer presented an option to the court that he said can be expanded in the future if the court sees fit. The funding will go to public school districts as well as private and charter schools.
The aid will cap at $100 per student with the exception of smaller districts, which could be reimbursed up to $200 per student, Heselmeyer said.
“We are in a unique position to give some assistance to our school districts,” Heselmeyer said. “I will say, in almost every case $100 a student is not going to cover all of their expenses, especially these smaller districts ... but I think we're in a position to do something to help.”
The program also asks schools and districts submit eligible expenses to the county by Nov. 6.
All schools can only receive reimbursement for students who reside in Williamson County, and additional criteria for charter schools include it must be a state-recognized school. For private schools to receive reimbursement, it must have a campus in Williamson County, have at least 100 students, offer at least four grade levels and teach in-person classes at least three days a week, Heselmeyer said.
This is the fourth phase of coronavirus relief funding distribution by the county.
In April, the county received $93 million in aid. Since then, about $34 million has been distributed to about 3,500 small businesses in the county, $5 million to aid families with rent and utilities through local nonprofits, and so far cities and emergency districts have been reimbursed about $1 million for COVID-19 expenses.
The county has also conducted over 97,440 COVID-19 tests, many of which were funded through the relief package or through partnerships the county fostered such as with Family Emergency Room, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.
In addition, the county has used funding to create and supply a three-month county stockpile of personal protective equipment.
“I dare to say that any county in America has accomplished what we've accomplished in the last six months,” Gravell said. “We have done an amazing job through a global pandemic to help our county not only stand up but to run forward.”
Currently, the county must distribute all of its coronavirus relief funding by Dec. 30, but Heselmeyer said he believes that timeline will be extended.
Heselmeyer added schools were one of the last to be aided by the county due to potential barriers surrounding state funding. Heselmeyer said to his understanding Williamson County school districts have not seen COVID-19 relief funding from the Texas Education Agency to cover additional expenses brought on by the pandemic.
“So just to clarify, [schools have] spent more money because of COVID, but they're getting no additional funds from the state even though there is a separate bucket to receive separate funds and additional funds from the state,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said.
Williamson County has about 113,000 school-aged children.