Letter to Commissioner Mike Morath and the TEA regarding funding for Hold Harmless

December 21, 2020

December 18, 2020

Commissioner Michael Morath

Texas Education Agency

1701 N. Congress Avenue

Austin, Texas 78701                              

Dear Commissioner Morath,

We write you today to respectfully request that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) continue the Hold Harmless Guarantee for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.  An extension of the Hold Harmless would ensure our public school systems have continued flexibility and financial security to continue to provide academic instruction and programs while adjusting to the ongoing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our school districts need full funding so they can continue to focus on student learning and mental health, employing and retaining staff to maintain programs, and keeping everyone healthy and safe.

The ongoing conditions and uncertainty of the pandemic into 2021 demands further stability for public education.  TEA previously indicated it would monitor whether further adjustments to the Hold Harmless will need to be addressed for the second semester, but has not indicated if this important and necessary funding will be extended.  Meanwhile, our districts are facing deadlines to make critical decisions regarding their budgets, including consequences to staffing and programs, if the Hold Harmless does not continue.

An extended Hold Harmless will allow districts the security to ensure that they can fulfill the commitments in their budgets.  Districts have seen losses in enrollment due to the pandemic and anticipate those losses to be compounded by traditionally lower enrollment in the second semester despite their diligent efforts.  The combination of lower enrollment and lower attendance in the spring makes the next six months extremely onerous without continuation of the Hold Harmless. Despite any such enrollment loss, ongoing budget and other education commitments and obligations remain.

The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in a learning loss for students whose education has been disrupted for the second school year in a row.  Using Hurricane Katrina as an example, it has been reported that students in that crisis suffered significant learning loss.  We do not yet know the long-term learning loss of the pandemic, but we do know that schools will need intervention strategies to address the learning slides that are reflected in assessments from the beginning of this school year.  Potential reductions in staff, programs, and services due to loss of funding if the Hold Harmless is not extended will have a direct impact on some of the most vulnerable students and will have a long-lasting negative effect on their educational attainment.

Unfortunately, waiting for the 87th Legislative Session to mitigate the damage from such preventable loss of funding will be too late to help students this school year.  The budget passed by the 86th Legislature is more than sufficient to fund the Hold Harmless Guarantee for the full current school year.  Our urgent concern is that, if the Hold Harmless is not extended for the second semester, the process of making difficult and harmful decisions to reduce staffing, in addition to cutting programs for students, may be forced on school districts immediately.  We must not let this happen.

We respectfully ask TEA to continue the Hold Harmless for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

Your thoughtful consideration and prompt action on this request in furtherance of your continued service to the education, safety, and development of our students is sincerely appreciated.


Representative Steve Allison

House District 121

Representative Alma A. Allen

House District 131

Representative Rafael Anchia

House District 103

Representative Trent Ashby

House District 57

Representative Ernest Bailes

House District 18

Representative Michelle Beckley

House District 65

Representative Keith Bell

House District 4

Representative Diego Bernal

House District 123

Representative César Blanco

House District 76

Representative Dwayne Bohac

House District 138

Representative John Bucy III

House District 136

Representative DeWayne Burns

House District 58

Representative Angie Chen Button

House District 112

Representative Cecil Bell

House District 3

Representative Terry Canales

House District 40

Representative Sheryl Cole

House District 46

Representative Nicole Collier

House District 95

Representative Philip Cortez

House District 117

Representative John Cyrier

House District 17

Representative Drew Darby

House District 72

Representative Alex Dominguez

House District 37

Representative John Frullo

House District 84

Representative Gary Gates

House District 28

Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins

House District 120

Representative Mary Gonzalez

House District 75

Representative Vikki Goodwin

House District 47

Representative Bobby Guerra

House District 41

Representative Roland Gutierrez

House District 119

Representative Sam Harless

House District 126

Representative Cody Harris

House District 8

Representative Cole Hefner

House District 5

Representative Ana Hernandez

House District 143

Representative Able Herrero

House District 34

Representative Gina Hinojosa

House District 49

Representative Donna Howard

House District 48

Representative Celia Israel

House District 50

Representative Jarvis Johnson

House District 139

Representative Julie Johnson

House District 115

Representative Kyle Kacal

House District 12

Representative Stan Lambert

House District 71

Representative Brooks Landgraf

House District 81

Representative Lyle Larson

House District 122

Representative Jeff Leach

House District 67

Representative Ben Leman

House District 13

Representative Oscar Longoria

House District 35

Representative Ray Lopez

House District 125

Representative J.M. Lozano

House District 43

Representative Armando Martinez

House District 39

Representative Trey Martinez Fischer

House District 116

Representative Will Metcalf

House District 16

Representative Terry Meza

House District 105

Representative Ina Minjarez

House District 124

Representative Joe Moody

House District 78

Representative Christina Morales

House District 145

Representative Andrew Murr

House District 53

Representative Lina Ortega

House District 77

Representative Leo Pacheco

House District 118

Representative Tan Parker

House District 63

Representative Jared Patterson

House District 106

Representative Mary Ann Perez

House District 114

Representative Four Price

House District 87

Representative Richard Pena Raymond

House District 42

Representative John Raney

House District 14

Representative Ron Reynolds

House District 27

Representative Eddy Rodriguez

House District 51

Representative Ramon Romero

House District 90

Representative Carl Sherman

House District 109

Representative Hugh Shine

House District 55

Representative-Elect Shelby Slawson

House District 59

Representative Reggie Smith

House District 62

Representative John Smithee

House District 86

Representative Drew Springer

House District 68

Representative Lynn Stuckey

House District 64

Representative James Talarico

House District 52

Representative Ed Thompson

House District 29

Representative Senfronia Thompson

House District 141