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House Public Education Committee Meets on HB 21, Other School Finance Bills

03.07.2017 — The House Public Education Committee met today on a number of bills related to school finance. Speaker Joe Straus stopped by the meeting to, as he later tweeted, to “express support for [the committee’s] work on school finance.” Bills discussed are as follows:

 

HB 223 (Donna Howard) Relating to use of the compensatory education allotment funding to provide assistance to students at risk of dropping out of school who are pregnant or who are parents. The bill would provide child-care services or assistance with child-care expenses for students at risk of dropping out of school, or pay the costs associated with services provided through a life skills program. The bill was left pending in committee.

HB 1245 (Philip Cortez) Relating to funding for public school career and technology programs. The bill would amend state law so that the allotment applies to each full-time student in grades 8–12 rather than 9–12. A number of CTE educators and administrators testified in support of this bill, which was left pending in committee.

HB 395 (Cecil Bell) Relating to the career and technology education allotment and the essential knowledge and skills of the career and technology education and technology applications curriculums. The bill would consolidate CTE and technology applications courses for purposes of funding and curriculum (requiring an SBOE review of the related TEKS to combine them and eliminate duplication). Several educators testified in support of the bill, which was left pending in committee.

HB 186 (Diego Bernal) Relating to a study regarding the cost of educating educationally disadvantaged students and students of limited English proficiency. The bill would require TEA to conduct a study to examine the costs of educating a student who is educationally disadvantaged and a student of limited English proficiency in public schools. For both types of students, the study must determine whether the current allotment is adequate, and if it is inadequate, determine what the adequate allotment would be. The bill requires TEA to submit a report by January 1, 2018. All public testimony was in support of the bill, which was left pending in committee.

HB 587 (Dwayne Bohac) Relating to the creation of a technology applications course allotment under the foundation school program. The bill would give technical applications and computer science the same weighted funding as CTE courses (achieving the same goal as HB 395 above but using a different mechanism). Rather than extending CTE funding to cover technical applications, it creates a new allotment. Rep. Bohac and those testifying in support of the bill said that they would support either HB 587 or HB 395 moving forward. This bill was also left pending in committee.

HB 883 (Ken King) Relating to funding for career and technology programs in public schools. The bill would increase the weight used to calculate the annual allotment for CTE from 1.35 to 1.60. All testimony on HB 883, which was left pending, was supportive.

HB 21 (Dan Huberty) Relating to the public school finance system. The bill increases the basic allotment from $5,140 to $5,350 per student, each year of the biennium by: providing transportation funding of $125 per student through the basic allotment to benefit charters and allows districts that pay recapture to fully access state transportation dollars for the first time; including funding for the High School Allotment; and including funding for Additional State Aid for Non-Professional Staff. The bill would lower recapture by approximately $163 million in 2018 and $192 million in 2019. It would also create a Hardship Provision Grant to provide assistance to districts that will experience a hardship due to the expiration of ASATR, add a 0.1 weight for students with dyslexia, and repeal the hold harmless for districts identified as Chapter 41 in 1993.

Legislative Budget Board representatives answered questions about the percentage of public education funding paid by the state over time (48.5 percent in 2007, decreasing to a projected 38.8 percent in 2019 under the current system). They also noted the numbers of districts affected by the expiration of ASATR (156) and other provisions of HB 21 as drafted. According to a LBB representative, the ASATR Hardship Provision Grant would be awarded in priority order to districts losing the greatest percentage to the least.

Amy Beneski, TASA deputy executive director for governmental relations, testified in support of HB 21, noting appreciation for the effort to begin fixing the school finance system and for the $1.6 billion in additional funding. “We would like all districts to gain funding,” she said, “so we look forward to working with you on this bill this session and in the next few years as this process continues.”

Many others testified in support of the bill, while others testified “on” the bill and expressed concerns that they asked to be addressed as the bill progresses. It was left pending.

In beginning discussion on the bill, Huberty stressed that the entire school finance system could not be fixed this year, but this was intended to be a first step. He said that his plan is to use the feedback gathered on HB 21 to create a substitute bill that he would post and bring back to the committee for discussion next week.

See the text of HB 21.

See the HB 21 model runs for 2018 and 2019.

The committee finished with public testimony on HB 811 (Ken King), relating to the extension of additional state aid for tax reduction provided to certain school districts. The bill was left pending.