Although the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees approved a maximum tax rate of $1.2702 for the 2021-22 fiscal year—a $0.03 increase over the 2020-21 rate—during its April 19 meeting, federal funding released on April 28 has made the increase unnecessary, officials said.

The district was originally eyeing a $0.03—or 2.42%—increase, which would have generated an additional $15.1 million for the district to fund FBISD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board approved the maximum tax rate prior to $11.2 billion in federal aid being allocated to Texas schools. The funds were allocated under the American Rescue Plan and are the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding.

FBISD’s allocation of ESSER III funding totals $94.7 million. Two-thirds of the funding—or $63.1 million—are immediately available to districts via TEA grants, while the remaining one-third will be released by the U.S. Department of Education later this spring, according to the TEA. Districts were able to apply for TEA grants beginning April 29.

ESSER III funding can be used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including initiatives that address student learning loss as a result of COVID-19, according to the TEA.

“Fort Bend ISD is pleased to learn that the state is making plans to release funds designated for public schools, especially since we must adopt our annual budget by June,” said Sherry Williams, FBISD’s director of external communications and media relations, in a statement. “The funding would help FBISD finalize plans for student intervention programs to address areas of need such as the COVID-19 academic slide and provide reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses incurred—including personal protective equipment, technology related to online learning, contact tracing and wellness monitors.”