House Public Ed Hears More Testimony on HB 21 School Finance Bill, Many Other New Bills
- HB 1291 (Geren) would require the SBOE and school districts to ensure that: 1) the public school curriculum emphasizes an understanding of the principles underlying the U.S. form of government, including the study of the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers; 2) each historical event addressed in the curriculum meets a reasonable standard of historical significance, in relation to the limited amount of available instructional time; 3) any issue included in the curriculum that is considered controversial is presented in a balanced manner that includes multiple viewpoints regarding the issue; and 4) any curriculum generated, purchased, or otherwise obtained by a district, including dual credit, AP, and IB social studies courses, is in compliance with the appropriate TEKS. The bill was left pending.
- HB 639 (Anderson, et al.) would authorize public school districts to purchase health benefit plans and liability or automobile insurance coverage for the benefit of businesses and students participating in CTE programs and providing for immunity from liability of certain public school students participating in CTE programs. Testimony indicated that the intent of the bill was to encourage more businesses to participate in work training programs by reducing the liability risk. The bill was left pending.
- HB 1645 (Lozano, et al.) would require school districts that allow high school students to earn a letter for academic, athletic, or extracurricular achievements to adopt a policy that allows high school students in the district to earn a letter on the basis of a student’s participation in a Special Olympics event. The bill was left pending.
- HB 69 (Guillen) would require the commissioner to implement rules that require each school district and open-enrollment charter school to include in the district’s or school’s PEIMS report the number of children with disabilities residing in a residential facility who: 1) are required to be tracked by the Residential Facility Monitoring (RFM) System; and 2) receive educational services from the district or school. Testimony indicated that the intent of the bill was to streamline the process for tracking students and reduce related paperwork. The bill was left pending.
- HB 264 (Hernandez) is a clean-up bill that would amend Section 28.015 of the Education Code (Public Outreach Materials to Promote Curriculum Change Awareness) by removing a reference to the Texas B-On-Time loan program and by changing the expiration date of the section from September 1, 2018, to September 1, 2020. It was left pending.
- HB 452 (Moody) would require districts, at least once every 12 weeks, to give written notice (presumably in conjunction with student report cards) to a parent of the number of students who, on the last day of the period for which the notice is given, were enrolled in each of the student’s classes, including the class for a particular subject. The cost associated with the bill was estimated at $2,000 to $20,000 per school district.
- HB 728 (Guerra) would require the commissioner of education to develop and implement an advanced computer science program that high school students may take to comply with the curriculum requirements for advanced mathematics or science credits. The bill was left pending.
- HB 1270 (Smithee) would allow a school district to excuse up to two days of absences of junior or senior students who visit a military recruitment center for a branch of the U.S. armed services for the purpose of determining the student’s interest in enlisting. The bill was left pending.
- HB 136 (Bell, et al.) would add career and technology education and workforce training to the mission of public education in statute. It was left pending.
- HB 441 (Martinez) would prohibit school districts, though not Districts of Innovation, from providing student instruction on Memorial Day. It was left pending.
- HB 1389 (Giddings) would limit public pre-K classes to 22 students. The bill was left pending.
- HB 710 (Wu, et al.) would require districts to provide free full-day pre-K for certain children and makes districts eligible for full-day funding under the Foundation School Program for each student who satisfies eligibility requirements and who is enrolled. The bill has a $1.6 billion fiscal note.
- HB 620 (Leach) would prohibit school districts from beginning instruction before the second Monday in August (rather than the fourth Monday). Representatives of Schlitterbahn and summer camps testified against the bill, which was left pending.
- HB 729 (Bohac) would require the SBOE to integrate certain positive character traits into the essential knowledge and skills adopted for K-12 and require districts and open-enrollment charter schools to adopt character education programs that include the positive character traits. The bill was left pending.
- HB 404 (Anchia, et al.) would create higher education curriculum teams to review and make recommendations to the SBOE on the essential knowledge and skills for K-12 for college readiness purposes. Casey McCreary testified “on” the bill on behalf of TASA, noting concern that the bill would allow a higher education panel to disregard/override recommendations K-12 educators have made to the SBOE regarding revisions to the curriculum standards. She also expressed concern that by codifying higher education involvement in K-12 standards review, the bill would have unintended consequences, including slowing the review process and potentially adding more standards to the overextended curriculum framework. Rep. Anchia, the bill’s sponsor, indicated that the bill was still a work in progress and he was consulting with stakeholders on changes to the bill. The bill was left pending.
- HB 878 (King, Ken) would allow school districts to extend a district depository contract for three years (rather than two) and to modify the contract for any extension. The bill was left pending.
- HB 539 (VanDeaver, et al.) would exempt dependents of members of the U.S. military (and students placed in substitute care) from the requirement that students must be enrolled in a Texas public school during the preceding school year to be allowed to enroll in the virtual school network. It was left pending.
- HB 367 (Bernal, et al.) would permit a school district to allow a campus to essentially set up an on-campus food pantry for hungry students by electing to donate leftover food to a nonprofit organization through an official on-campus nonprofit organization representative or designee who is directly affiliated with the campus, such as a teacher, counselor, or PTA member. The donated food could be received, stored, and redistributed on campus at any time. The bill was left pending.
- HB 357 (Huberty, et al.) would extend eligibility for free pre-K programs in public schools to the children of people eligible for the Star of Texas Award, which honors peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical first responders who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. It was left pending.
- HB 21 (Dan Huberty) would increase 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.
- This bill was first discussed on Tuesday, March 7. Discussion continued on the bill as filed; no substitute has been offered yet.
- Huberty pointed out that without passage of HB 21, which adds $1.6 billion to the public education budget, school funding would effectively be cut by $140 per student.
- He reiterated that the bill does not fix all the problems with the school finance system but that he and the bill’s co-authors have had hundreds of meetings with stakeholders during the past few months and many during the week since the bill was introduced. He said he has heard many good ideas and concepts for fixing the system but that this bill is trying to do one thing: Take a simplistic approach to making progress on what will have to be a multi-session fix.
- Some discussion centered around how best to prioritize and allot funding for transportation, hardship due to loss of ASATR, and repeal of the hold harmless provision.
- Huberty said he would be open to further input and plans to file a substitute bill soon.
The committee referred a number of bills to the Subcommittee on Educator Quality for review.
The committee voted out HB 223 (Donna Howard), which would allow 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 now goes before the full House for review.
Next week the committee will hear bills related to accountability.