Officers nominated for 2022-2024
The Texas School Coalition membership elects officers in the fall of every even-numbered year to serve the organization for a two-year term. Our bylaws call for the Executive Committee to nominate a slate of officers, and the following individuals have been nominated:

President - Kyle Lynch, Seminole ISD
Vice President - Danny Massey, Brazosport ISD
Secretary/Treasurer - Sharon McKinney, Port Aransas ISD

Additional nominations from member districts may be submitted that carry the endorsement of 10% of the membership. Our officers will be elected at the membership meeting during the TASA/TASB Convention on Saturday, September 24.
House Public Education Committee hears school finance and other topics
The House Public Education Committee conducted two hearings earlier this week. On Monday, the Committee covered the topics of school finance, teacher incentives, HB 4545 requirements, special education supplemental services vouchers, learning loss related to COVID-19, and chronic absenteeism. On Tuesday, the Committee heard testimony on the topics of edTPA, K12/Higher Ed/Workforce partnerships, curriculum & instructional materials, and parent empowerment.

The first topic was that of the implementation of school finance legislation HB 3 (86R) and HB 1525 (87R). Kyle Lynch testified on behalf of Seminole ISD and the Texas School Coalition. He spoke about the challenges districts are facing in regards to the growing cost of inflation (which has grown by 12% since HB 3 took effect). Seminole ISD at least 125 other districts rely on Formula Transition Grants to provide the minimum 3% gain from HB 3 and those districts face the additional threat of the fiscal cliff with those grants set to expire in the fall of 2024, while the additional requirements adopted by the Legislature have no such expiration date. Lynch explained to the committee that unlike cities and counties, schools have no automatic adjustment to their available revenue year over year, so school funding has been stagnant since the passage of HB 3. An increase to the Basic Allotment to match the rate of inflation would be equivalent to a $700 increase up to $6,860. This increase would help all schools with rising costs and also reduce recapture, which has reached the point of exceeding $3 billion in one year. Recapture has increased by 25% since the slight reduction caused by HB 3. You can see his full testimony and accompanying handouts here.

Elizabeth Fagen of Humble ISD testified virtually on behalf of her fast-growth district. HISD has integrated the Reading Academies into their literacy program, which has made things better, while not completely solving that challenge. Their property tax rate will drop again this year. Dr. Fagen asked for more local accountability and funding based on enrollment rather the attendance, or at least the opportunity to make up for sick days through virtual attendance. She hopes legislators will review special education funding, as Humble ISD currently only receives 40% of the actual cost for those services.  

Brian Woods testified on behalf of Northside ISD and the Texas School Alliance. He pointed out that the early education allotment does not cover the full cost of full-day pre-K. Reading Academies are not a bad idea, but timing made it extremely difficult to implement. He also suggested that the way to address the teacher shortage is to look to retired teachers and address the surcharge to allow some way for retired professionals to return. Schools are struggling to hire for every position—from teachers and counselors to custodians. The toxicity of the political discussion around public schools is driving folks out of the profession, along with the ability to get good paying jobs elsewhere.  He also explained the interested in how the Legislature will deal with the surplus, while saying. But we don’t want to find ourselves in 2025 like where we were in 2011. We only recovered from 2011 with HB 3, and now the effects of inflation have diminished that.

Kevin Brown testified on behalf of TASA. While expressing appreciation for the positive aspects of HB 1525 such as additional flexibility, CTE funding for small & mid-sized schools, and the restoration of the GT allotment, he also voiced concern over the $600 million reduction to the Technology and Instructional Materials Allotment (TIMA). He expressed concern over inflation and the cost of gas, salaries, and benefits. He encouraged sustainability and taking steps to avoid another 2011 or any measures that lead to a fiscal cliff. Brown also encouraged legislators to consider funding schools on the basis of enrollment rather than attendance.  

The committee also heard testimony on the topic of the Fast Growth School Allotment, the Teacher Incentive Allotment, Reading Academies, and a variety of other school finance-related topics, as well as school governance and interventions. They also heard from a panel on the implementation of HB 4545 accelerated instruction requirements, including representatives from Amplify Education, North Texas Tutoring Corps, and the Texas Public Charter School Association, though there was no testimony on this topic from any traditional school district other than the comments offered by superintendents and TASA when discussing the topic school finance and the challenges schools face.

Later in the day on Monday, the committee heard testimony from TEA, Disability Rights Texas, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation on the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) Program implemented under SB 1716 from the 87th Regular Session. They also heard from three panels of witnesses on the topic of COVID-19 and learning loss and what schools are doing to address that and meet students' educational needs. They finished the first day's hearing with three panels who spoke to chronic absenteeism and then heard several hours of public testimony.

The 15-hour hearing on Tuesday kicked off with a conversation about edTPA, and then went on to the topic of partnerships between K-12, higher education, and the workforce. Education Commissioner Mike Morath, Higher Education Commissioner Harrison Keller, and Commissioner Bryan Daniel from the Texas Workforce Commission participated in that panel. Morath then went on to also provide testimony on the topics of curriculum & instruction and parent empowerment.

You can view the presentation slides used my Commissioner Morath here:

Following the invited testimony on these topics (full agenda here), the committee heard four hours of public testimony from very passionate (and sometimes hostile) witnesses.

The next time the committee will meet is August 9, on the topic of accountability and assessments.
VATR Election Resources
It's that time of year when you are contemplating tax rates and elections. To that end, we are pleased to provide you with a new resource--a Toolkit intended to help districts proposing VATR Elections effectively communicate with the local community in advance of the November election. The toolkit provides information, guidance, and examples. Thanks to our friends at New West Communications for their work on this project. Check it out here: Communications Toolkit for School Districts Proposing VATR Elections

Additionally, there are many steps and rules to follow in this process. As tax rates are calculated and you get that information and approval from TEA, there are many posting rules, and Truth in Taxation forms, and public meetings that must occur. There are resources to help with that as well. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) provides a detailed memo to outline every step along the way: School District Budget and Tax Rate Adoption in 2022.

And the Coalition updated our brief on School District Budget, Tax Rate, and Election Timeline & Procedures back in May 2022.
Priorities for the 88th Legislative Session

  • Enable public schools to meet students' needs
  • Control the cost of recapture
  • Protect the sustainability of public education funding
  • Ensure public accountability of public dollars
  • Preserve local decision-making

You can take a look at the priorities on our website to get more information behind each of those statements. And if you are interested in even more details about what all of this means, we have expanded further with an itemized list of priorities under each of those headings.
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