Legislative Planning Workshop
Our virtual Legislative Planning Workshop is coming up soon--June 10-11, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. each day. That time is a slight change for those of you who have already marked your calendars, and we apologize for the change. The new timing allows us to avoid any conflict with the TASA Virtual Summer Conference. Please click on the link below to register and let us know you plan to participate in this virtual event.

This workshop will include updates on what you need to know as we look to the upcoming 87th Session of the Texas Legislature and allow time for conversations about challenges, solutions, and priorities for your district and the organization as a whole.
Wed, Jun 10, 2020 2:00 PM CST
Legislative Planning Workshop
Huberty: prioritize public education
House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Humble) published an opinion editorial Tuesday stating that he believes members of both parties will insist that we prioritize spending on public education. He wants to keep, and further, the gains made under HB 3.  

What's new in the zoo?
This Texas Education Agency is regularly updating their Coronavirus (COVID-19) website , so keep checking there regularly for access to all the latest information.

A few new updates to highlight include:

  • A collection of School Calendar Resources (Updated both May 7 and May 12) because Commissioner Morath explained that prudence demands schools explore calendar options that would allow for the flexibility necessary to make up instructional days that may be missed during the 2020-21 school year.

Also, Commissioner Morath said it is very likely that the superintendents' call on Tuesday, May 19 will include an update on school finance and reimbursements.
A few things to consider...
Planning for an upcoming school year always requires a certain about of educated guesswork. But if there was ever a time when all of us could use a crystal ball to give us even a foggy idea of what to expect in the year ahead, now is that time. As you think about what the future may hold for the next school year and what budget assumptions you should make, here are just a few things to consider:

Sales tax collections for April were down by 9 percent compared to those collections for the same month in 2019. That's a snapshot in time from a month when many businesses were completely shutdown, but it is also a sign worth attention. How quickly the economy bounces back remains to be seen. Keep in mind that Texas must adopt a budget that meets the 'pay as you go' spending limit. We can't spend more than we expect to collect. The 9 percent decline hurts, to be sure, but the other thing that will play a big role is the long-term effect to the economy and therefore the projections of what revenue sales taxes and other sources may generate in 2021 and 2022. That 9 percent decline is why you may start to hear about some folks calling for a state budget reduction of 10 percent (though none of those calls are from official sources yet).

Help and hold harmless provisions offered for disasters in the past are more challenging to offer statewide long-term. In the past when certain areas of the state have faced disasters and catastrophic events, the state has offered waivers and hold harmless provisions for a time following the disaster. We have seen that this spring as schools statewide offered remote instruction during the pandemic. However, continuing that practice into the next school year could be challenging due to the cost for such provisions on a statewide basis, rather than for a specific region; the state recognizes they will have limited funds. Hopefully provisions to ensure funding is not reduced will continue, but whether schools can count on that assistance is something to consider.

Attendance and collections are down while costs are up.  We've already talked about making assumptions that attendance rates and enrollment may be lower in the next school year, as well as tax collections. The thing that won't be lower is costs. As schools hope to return to in-person instruction, the process of deep cleaning and find ways to allow for social distancing among students and staff all carry additional costs.

Full-time virtual learning is being proposed as more than a stop-gap solution.  While there are an awful lot of parents statewide who can't wait for in-person instruction to resume inside school buildings, there are also some who are calling for the state to offer full-time virtual learning opportunities on a year-round basis, pandemic or not. While it is wonderful to hear that some students and families have had a positive experience with this experiment, we can't lose sight of the students for whom that has not been the case. Blended virtual learning can be a great tool, but it can't completely replace all that a public school setting has to offer.
We have updated a the talking points regarding how the Fiscal Downturn Will Impact Public Education Funding
the with the latest information. You can use this information to help explain the current expectations for the Texas economy and the impact that will likely have on school funding. These talking points may be helpful as you work through the budget-setting process to explain things to your school staff and community.
Budgets, Tax Rates, and Elections
In case you missed this tool in our last update, you may find this document helpful as you work your way through the process of adopting budgets and tax rates. There are a lot of new rules and timelines to be aware of under the new laws put in place by HB 3. To help with that, we have compiled a document to help navigate those timelines and procedures for both districts with a July 1 fiscal year and those with a fiscal year that begins September 1.
Thank you to our annual sponsors!
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