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Texas Commission on Public School Finance Votes on Final Recommendations

12.21.2018 — On December 19, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance met to discuss draft recommendations to be included in its final report to the 86th Texas Legislature. Two goals emerged as priorities for the commission in finalizing its recommendations:

  • Increased funding for public education
    • Emphasis on extra funding for schools with the most challenging students
    • Focus funding on outcomes, especially those schools with the lowest outcomes
  • Property tax relief

It was noted during the meeting that the commission had heard 80 hours of testimony since it began meeting and discussing some of the 30-plus recommendations before them.

House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, a member of the commission, said that more money needs to be directed into public school programs, in addition to funding that districts already receive. He noted that the reallocations proposed in the commission’s recommendations, along with the outcome recommendations and additional monies, would result in more funding for schools once the runs are produced.

Commission Chairman Scott Brister said he was not in favor of money going to across-the-board pay increases.

Huberty and others noted that the system needs more sustainable funding than grants, so that districts aren’t forced to go to local taxpayers to raise revenue. He said that the solution isn’t just compressing taxes but finding resources that are reliable so local taxpayers don’t have to bear the burden in a few years. Rep. Ken King agreed that grants are not a reliable funding source and noted that the Legislature will have to debate how to find additional reliable state revenue from multiple sources. Nicole Conley Johnson with Austin ISD stated that many districts currently don’t have any discretion and that any fix recommended by the commission can’t be temporary or simply delay solving the root problems.

The commission considered an additional Fast Growth Allotment at a cost of $280 million to cover any losses due to a lag in values going from prior to current year. Commission member Doug Killian, superintendent, Pflugerville ISD, noted this would be an annual allotment and not one-time funding.

King asked for clarification on a recommendation that would recreate the small/mid-size adjustments as a stand-alone allotment. Huberty stated that it would not mean that small/mid-size districts would get less funding than they did the prior biennium, but it may incentivize some districts to merge.

A recommendation on educator effectiveness was also a focus of discussion. The recommendation includes requirements that local evaluation systems must equal or include:

  • Student achievement – minimum of 25 percent
  • Administrator observation – minimum of 30 percent
  • Student perception survey – minimum of 15 percent

It was noted that TEA had provided input on these requirements and that the commission would make changes in the final report, noting the percentages of the above requirements would be determined at a later time.

The commission’s recommendations include the following reallocations/eliminations:

  • Reallocate $5.3 billion to current and new programs
  • Eliminate the Cost of Education Index (CEI) – $2.9 billion
  • Eliminate the 1993 Hold Harmless Provision – $30 million
  • Eliminate Chapter 41 Early Agreement Credit – $50 million
  • Eliminate the Gifted and Talented Allotment – $165 million
  • Eliminate the High School Allotment – $400 million
  • Move from prior year to current year property values – $1.8 billion and spend $280 million annually for districts in the top quartile of student growth

The commission recommends that the savings from the above changes be used to:

  • Increase Comp Ed from 0.2 to .0225 to .275 based on the concentration of economically disadvantaged students – $1.12 billion
  • Change small-midsized funding to an allotment – cost neutral
  • Expand CTE funding to sixth-eighth grade – $20 million
  • Extend Transportation Allotment to Chapter 41 districts – $60 million
  • Move from linear density for transportation to $0.80 per mile
  • Increase NIFA funding – $76 million (totaling approximately $100 million)
  • Add a new dual-language allotment weight of 0.5 (in addition to current bilingual weight) – $50 million
  • Add a new dyslexia allotment weight of 0.1 – $100 million
  • Add a new K-3 weight for economically disadvantaged and ELL students of 0.1 – $780 million
  • Add a new third-grade reading achievement bonus weight of 0.4 – $400 million
  • Add a new college, career and military readiness bonus – $400 million
  • Add a new optional teacher incentive pay program in the 2020-21 biennium (locally developed) – $100 million per year and reaching $1.9 billion by 2028
  • Add a new extended-year summer program for preK-5 for an additional 30 days for districts needing additional support – $50 million
  • Increase the Basic Allotment – cost TBD

There was also a recommendation to tie the yield on the “golden pennies” to the Basic Allotment. There was also discussion about increasing the yield on the “copper pennies” to $43.50 and linking them to property tax reduction, but it’s unclear if that will be determined in the final report.

The commission also recommended amending the state’s high school graduation requirements to require students to complete either the FAFSA (for U.S. citizens) or the TAFSA (for Noriega-eligible students), but allow parents to opt out of this requirement.

See the version of the commission’s report that was discussed during the December 19 meeting.

The final version of the commission report is not available at this time but will be posted on the TEA website when completed.

Watch the archive video of the final commission meeting.

View TASA's letter to the commission.