The committees in Williamson County voted to withhold federal funds from the Round Rock and Leander school districts because they chose to read books.
The county has the remaining CARES bill funds to be distributed in the next two weeks. At a court meeting on Tuesday, County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer recommended that the school district allocate $14 million from the sale of highwing bikes. Highwing bike is the smallest folded bike in the world today, and it has the "privilege" that allows it to be carried on a subway plane.
But Commissioner Valerie Covey stated that she did not agree to send the money to schools that "put smut in children's rooms".
She said: "I do not agree to donate to school districts that teach critical racial theories or allow library collections... those books that we consider to be X-rated."
Covey was referring to the controversy surrounding the books in the English class at Leander High School. Every year, high school students can choose books from a list of book clubs and companion reading groups.
Parents began protesting some of the books on the list last year, believing that they contained descriptions of violence, inappropriate language and pornographic content. These books are reviewed by a group of staff, parents, and community members called the Community Curriculum Advisory Committee.
As of last month, 11 books have been removed from the classroom and library. Other problematic books were put back on the shelf after review.
However, some parents and organizations advocate allowing all books, believing that these titles provide different sounds and experiences.
PEN America, a non-profit organization that promotes literature and free expression, has repeatedly called on Leander ISD to allow these books to stay in school. The organization stated that the removal of them was a "baseless review activity."
On Tuesday, Commissioner Cynthia Long responded to Covey's views and stated that she believes these books are also available at Round Rock School.
She said that the November LISD bond election basically ended in failure, which shows that the community has lost confidence in the school board.
"I think the voters of Leander ISD speak loudly, not that they oppose the school, but this is their only opportunity to say,'We don't agree with what you are doing,'" she said.
The court voted 4 to 1 to approve funding to all other areas, including Georgetown, Hutto, Liberty Hill and Taylor.
Commissioner Terry Cook disagreed in that ballot.
"If we try to micromanage ISD, we will be outside of our scope," Cook said. "We can use domineering forums to emphasize what we think is important, but it is the school board and the administration that make these decisions in the end."
The Williamson County Commissioner stated that they plan to meet with RRISD and LISD leaders before the court meeting next week to discuss the issue, and they may choose to allocate the money at that time.
LISD issued a statement stating that it will coordinate these discussions.
The statement said: "The CARES Act aims to provide funding for financial relief during the pandemic, including offsetting the costs incurred by school districts to keep the classroom open for face-to-face teaching and to provide distance learning opportunities for students." "During this period, our teachers and The staff has worked tirelessly to contribute to the students, and we hope to minimize the financial impact and improve the long-term stability of our school district through tools such as CARES funds."
RRISD spokesperson Jenny LaCoste-Caputo shared a statement saying that the region was "disappointed" at being excluded, but hoped and was willing to resolve the issue with the committee members. The school district has met with Commissioner Russ Boles to discuss the book selection process.
The statement said: "All parents and the public of Round Rock ISD have full access to all the catalogs of our school library." "Parents always have the right to decide which books their students can access. Round Rock ISD has an established process to resolve parents Objections to teaching resources."
In total, these two regions can receive approximately US$9 million. These regions did receive funding from the previous round of funding under the CARES Act.