Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde pointed out barriers to receiving COVID-19-related funding at a Sept. 23 district board of trustees meeting.

The first wave of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allotted $1.28 billion to Texas schools, of which $17 million was earmarked for AISD.

“We saw no dollars,” Elizalde said of the first chunk of ESSER funds.

AISD’s total 2021-22 school year budget is $1.7 billion.

She said that $17 million was pulled from the district due to a change in enrollment.


The second phase of ESSER funding granted the state more than $5.5 billion for schools, including $69.3 million for AISD. Elizalde said $25 million of that was supplanted, meaning it would be kept from the district.

The third set of ESSER funding, part of the American Rescue Plan Act, gave AISD $155.6 million. Elizalde said a large portion went to pay the district back for COVID-19-related costs such as distribution of electronic devices, internet hot spots, masks, hand sanitizer stations and clear plastic barriers. The combined amount of ESSER II and ESSER III funds accessible to the district is equal to about 10% of the school district’s budget for the year.

Because of an additional $27.9 million redirected from that funding to cover indirect costs, Elizalde said the district ultimately received $34.8 million from ESSER II and $137.1 million from ESSER III.

Elizalde said, pointing out that she was speaking with “sarcasm,” also announced that AISD has been “randomly selected for our ESSER budget to be audited by the state. It was random.”
By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.



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