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Texas House approves Senate’s school funding plan, adjourns sine die

ThinkstockPhotos-487217874_breakingThis evening, the Texas House of Representatives reluctantly voted to accept the Senate’s version of a school funding bill that will provide some short-term relief for schools, students, and educators. The vote was 94-46 on the motion to concur with Senate amendments, which will send House Bill (HB) 21 to the governor’s desk. The Senate’s version stripped out much of the $1.8 billion sought by the House under an original version authored by Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood). As finally passed, the bill will provide hardship grants for schools losing ASATR funding; new grant programs to help students with autism, dyslexia, and related disorders; and a one-time infusion of funds to offset healthcare cost increases for retired educators.

The Senate, in recess at the time of the House’s decision to adjourn, will be back on the floor tonight and will have an opportunity to consider Senate Bill 1, a property tax bill that came back from the House with amendments. The Senate will have the option of concurring with the House amendments to SB 1, sending that bill also to the governor, or accepting no legislation on property taxes. Aside from the medical licensing legislation that necessitated the special session in the first place, Gov. Greg Abbott has listed property tax reform as his top priority for the special session that is now coming to a close. ATPE and others emphasized throughout the special session that the best way for lawmakers to provide local homeowners with property tax relief would be to overhaul the school finance system and increase the state’s share of the funding burden. Now a state commission will study the issue of school finance for two more years and make recommendations to the 86th legislature in 2019.

ATPE issued a press statement about the passage of HB 21 and the conclusion of the special session here. We are grateful for the work of legislative leaders to try to advance meaningful reforms to our school finance system that would benefit all students, as well as increases in pay and benefits for our hardworking educators. We are disappointed that the House leadership’s visionary plans for longer-term school finance changes were rejected, but we greatly appreciate the additional short-term aid that will flow to some schools, retired educators, and students during the next two years.

ATPE also thanks lawmakers for rejecting several discriminatory and unnecessary bills that were advanced by some during this special session. We are very pleased that legislators listened to the education community and rejected measures that attempted to silence educators in retaliation for their being politically active and bills seeking once again to divert public money to unregulated private schools.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Aug. 11, 2017

We’re heading into the last weekend of the special session, and many bills are still in play. Here’s the latest from the ATPE lobby team:


Senate Ed 08-11-17Today the Senate Education Committee has been hearing House Bill 21, a school finance bill authored by Rep. Dan Huberty. Senate committee chairman Larry Taylor has proposed a complete substitute for the bill, and the Senate’s changes are not sitting well with the scores of educators and education groups that supported the House version of the bill. As approved by the House, HB 21 would have injected $1.8 billion in new funds for public education, but senators have balked at the hefty price tag. The Senate’s version reduces funding by $1.5 billion, provides hardship grants for some districts facing the loss of ASATR funds this year, and offers new funding for charter schools to apply toward the cost of facilities or any other uses. A similar proposal to fund charter school facilities was stripped out of the House version of the bill a couple weeks ago after representatives objected to it.

As several witnesses who previously supported HB 21 testified neutrally or against the bill during today’s committee hearing, Chairman Taylor emphasized that he has spoken to Chairman Huberty about the bill and that both chambers are committed to continuing to negotiate language for the bill. The Senate committee expects to approve the measure today, sending it to the full Senate for a floor vote as early as tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 12. The Senate committee substitute version of HB 21 does not include private school vouchers, bathroom regulations, or any of the other highly controversial ideas that many thought might make it into the bill; however, there is still time for senators to offer up floor amendments containing any number of objectionable proposals.

Assuming that the House will not accept the Senate’s version of the bill, it is likely that HB 21 would be sent to a conference committee made up of senators and representatives to try to iron out a compromise.

 


Earlier this week, the House Public Education Committee advanced a handful of bills relating to teacher pay. Check out the latest blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter for the rundown on this legislation, including a proposal originally favored by Gov. Greg Abbott to establish a merit pay system for teachers who earn advanced credentials. With only a few days left in the special session, it remains unclear whether any of these bills will remain alive. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote and follow us on Twitter for the very latest.

 


In case you missed it, ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann wrote last week about the state’s draft plan for compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Texas Education Agency is accepting public comments on the draft plan until Aug. 29.

 


 

Dan Patrick’s Texas Senate plows ahead

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

In a matter of days, the Texas Senate, under the direction of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, plowed through Governor Greg Abbott’s special session priorities on education. The blitz began late last week and continued through the wee hours of this morning, when several more contentious education items were granted final approval. The pieces of legislation now head to the Texas House, where the lower chamber began work with a significantly different focus: on a meaningful approach to fixing the state’s broken school finance system and state-funded, sustainable options for increasing teacher pay and the state’s contributions to retirees.

The Senate worked until 2am this morning, passing a voucher proposal that was paired with needed funding for certain school districts and facilities funding for charter schools; a prohibition on educators’ ability to utilize payroll deduction to pay professional association dues; a teacher pay bonus bill that includes one-time supplemental funding for TRS-Care; a “bathroom bill” that would dictate related local school policies; and not a fix, but another commission to study school finance. Here’s more:

SB 19: teacher bonus & TRS-Care

After spending a significant amount of time yesterday debating Lt. Gov. Patrick’s priority legislation regarding the use of bathrooms in public schools, among other public spaces, the chamber moved on to several other pieces of legislation affecting public schools, students and educators. It started with its teacher pay bill, SB 19, authored by Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). The bill was originally marketed by its author and the Lt. Gov. as a teacher pay raise, but ATPE, among others, pushed back against that notion when it was heard in committee over the weekend.

ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter testifies in Senate Education Committee on July 21, 2017

ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter testifies in the Texas Senate.

ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter told members of the committee that educators appreciated two portions of the bill, the state-funded bonus for teachers and the needed one-time supplemental funding for TRS-Care, but he expressed opposition to the piece termed a “teacher pay raise,” which wasn’t state-funded and required school districts to “re-prioritize” funding. ATPE State Secretary and Abilene educator Tonja Gray also testified on the bill in committee, telling members: “I don’t want a pay raise on the backs of my students.” She explained that in an environment where Texas schools are already underfunded, an unfunded mandate to provide teacher pay raises would result in cuts to valuable programs or educators.

When the bill hit the full Senate floor for debate, the empty pay raise portion was removed and the bill was passed out of the chamber with overwhelming support. Senator Nelson, as the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Finance who writes and passes the state’s biennial budget, assured educators that she will prioritize a pay raise next session. ATPE looks forward to working with her to deliver on that promise to educators in 2019 as the 86th Texas Legislature convenes, and we will continue to fight on behalf of educators for a state-funded, sustainable, and meaningful pay raise. The House has its own versions of bills to address teacher pay and retiree benefits that are already on the move.

Related, the Senate also hosted a hearing over the weekend to consider proposals to fund a teacher pay raise in the next legislative session. ATPE submitted written testimony in opposition to the proposals, saying that “ATPE believes the legislature should pivot its focus on teacher pay to developing plans for long-term investments that do not come out of existing money already dedicated to public schools.” Both proposals received initial skepticism and one was in the process of being written as it was heard in committee. Both were left pending in committee and may stay there since the Senate removed the unfunded pay raise from its teacher pay bill.

SB 7: prohibition on payroll deduction for educators

A mere hour after praising educators endlessly as senators worked to approve the teacher pay bill on the floor of the Senate, Lt. Gov. Patrick turned the chamber’s attention to SB7, the bill by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) that selectively targets educators in an attempt to silence their collective voice. Unlike the teacher pay bill, which received no attention during the regular session, the bill to eliminate educators’ right to utilize payroll deduction to pay voluntary professional association dues has been a priority of the Lt. Gov. and Texas Senate for years now.

G3 testimony B&CDuring both the committee hearing and as the bill was debated on the floor of the full Senate, the discriminatory, purely political, and completely unnecessary nature of the bill was highlighted once again. ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey testified to the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce that educators feel “besieged, besmirched and really like they’re second class citizens.” Testifier after testifier pushed back against the proponents’  rhetoric about busting unions and glass claims about eliminating associated costs to government. Educators, police officers, fire fighters, and many other public servant employees showed up to prove that this bill isn’t wanted by anyone, aside from a couple of heavily funded special interest groups that have made it their top priority to silence educators, which they see as too effective at fighting harmful policies like vouchers.

During floor debate, more truths emerged. Senator Hughes shared Governor Abbott’s promise to veto any bill that includes first responders, a status of employment he and others deem superior to educators and other public servants like CPS workers and correctional officers. Amidst questioning on why the bill picks winners and losers, Senator Hughes finally admitted that some people “don’t like the advocacy of labor unions,” acknowledging that the bill is about silencing the advocacy efforts of the public employees targeted under the bill, which amounts primarily to educators. And as all involved continued to push back against the lie that payroll deduction for association dues costs the state, the bill author could only say that he wants to get the government out of the process for the targeted professions only.

Democratic members of the Senate offered amendments to exempt educators under the bill, broaden the definition of first responder to include educators, null the targeted prohibition until associated costs can be identified, delay the legislation’s enacting date to give the targeted labor organizations more time to adjust, and more, but Senator Hughes rejected them all and the bill remained unchanged. The bill passed the Senate with support from all Republicans, except for one, Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). He joined the Democratic members of the Senate to stand with educators in opposition. During the regular session, a nearly identical bill was sent to the House where it received no attention during the regular session. The House version of that bill died in committee and the Senate bill never received a hearing once it made it over. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on the special session version of this legislatio.

SB 2: special education voucher & certain school funding

NO VOUCHERSFirst up in the Senate was SB 2, the voucher bill authored by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). Paired with the $10,000 voucher for special education students was continued ASATR funding for certain schools that stress the funding is necessary. The bill also contains $60 million in facilities funding for fast growth school districts, $60 million for facilities funding for charter schools, and a grant program termed the ”educational expense assistance program” for public school special education students to access up to $500.

The voucher portion of the bill is, this time, in the form of a “tax credit scholarship.” Certain entities could receive tax credits in return for contributions made to the voucher program. Students with special needs could then access vouchers to pay for private school tuition. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter expressed ATPE’s concerns with the voucher portion of the proposal, saying that we should be focused on fixing things for special education students within public schools, rather than offering them money to go elsewhere. Tax credit scholarships, like all vouchers, are guilty of funneling public tax dollars out of the public school system. Offering tax credits to corporations will lower the general revenue Texas earns through taxes, and unless funds are raised elsewhere, cuts will have to be made in order to cover the deficit.

ATPE also encouraged legislators to take up the issues of ASATR and facilities funding independent of the politically charged voucher proposal. The Senate pressed ahead with the combined voucher and funding proposal, instead, and SB 2 passed the chamber 19-12. Two Republicans voted against the proposal, Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and one Democrat supported the bill, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (R-Brownsville). The bill heads to the House where the chamber took several overwhelming votes to reject vouchers during the regular session.

SB 16: commission to study school finance

The Senate also began with work on school finance, but unlike the House that is working on a bill to fix the system, the Senate bill would create a commission to further study school finance in Texas. SB16 is authored by Senator Larry Taylor, who filed a permanent fix supported by ATPE during the regular session. However, he chose not to advance that bill during the regular session, instead altering the House’s school finance bill by adding his voucher proposal. In the special session, he maintains that more studying of school finance should be done prior to passing a fix to the system. ATPE submitted written testimony that said it is time for legislators to act on school finance. We also encouraged the legislature to include educators on any commission that passes.

When SB 16 was debated on the Senate floor Monday, legislators agreed with our request to add an educator and amended the bill to include an active or retired educator to the commission. The chamber passed the legislation unanimously and sent it to the House where more extensive work to fix school finance is underway.

SB 3: bathrooms

The Senate chamber spent the better part of yesterday debating SB 3 by Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). After hours of testimony in committee and hours of debate on the Senate floor only days later, the Senate advanced the proposal, 21-10, with all Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (R-Brownsville), voting to advance the legislation. Speaker of the House Joe Straus has sided with business and school districts and made his feelings on the legislation fairly clear, saying he just doesn’t think it is needed legislation. The House offered a bathroom proposal limited to public schools that it was willing to advance during the regular session, but it did not receive the seal of approval from the Senate.

 

17_web_Spotlight_AdvocacyCentral_1It is important that members of the legislature hear from you on these issues deemed priorities by Governor Abbott. ATPE is encouraging all members to visit Advocacy Central to send a message to state legislators about these proposals as they continue to make their way through the process during the special session. Tell them to focus on meaningful pay and benefits for your profession and adequate school funding for your local schools. Let them know that vouchers and targeted prohibitions on payroll deductions for educators are distractions from the real issues faced by Texas public school children. You can also utilize the resource to thank your individual senators who voted with public education and educators!

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: July 14, 2017

Here is your weekly education news wrap-up, the special session preview edition:

 


ATPE and other public education allies are sponsoring a pro-public education rally on Monday, July 17 at the Capitol! The rally will begin at 1:30pm, bringing together educators, parents, students, and all public education advocates to rally in support of Texas public education ahead of the special session.

Rally

ATPE’s own Gary Godsey will speak at the rally alongside several other guest speakers and live entertainment. Join us to show support for public education as we head into a special session that features calls for vouchers, dismantling of educators’ rights, and other potentially troubling public education bills. Help us show lawmakers that public education needs their support! Show up and wear your red for public ed! We look forward to seeing you there.

 


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out his vision for satisfying Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session call to give all teachers a $1000 pay raise, or require districts to give all teachers a pay raise. Based on his press conference yesterday, it seems Patrick mostly agrees that the best approach to a teacher pay raise is to require it within existing school budgets and money dedicated to public education.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins was at the Capitol for the press conference and has more on Patrick’s teacher pay raise plan as well as a plan to provide a bonus to retirees. More on the press conference can be read in this Austin American Statesman article where ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter gives additional perspective and in this KXAN Austin story featuring an ATPE member and Mesquite, Texas educator.

 


Gary Godsey

Gary Godsey

Despite efforts by educators and some lawmakers to clarify the rampant misinformation regarding the reasons for banning payroll deduction for educators, proponents continue to spread these lies in an effort to deflect from what’s really behind the purely political effort: silencing educators’ collective voice. ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey sets the record straight this week in an editorial featured in the Houston Chronicle.

“This legislation aims to specifically deny teachers the ability to voluntarily deduct membership fees directly from their paychecks,” Godsey said, “with the hope that reducing convenience and security will lead to fewer teachers joining groups that advocate inside the Texas Capitol for classrooms and children.”

17_web_Spotlight_AdvocacyCentral_1Check out and retweet this video for more on the truth about payroll deduction. ATPE members can also visit Advocacy Central to send a message to state legislators about this needless attack on educators who choose to join professional organizations that advocate for them and for our public schools. We also encourage educators and other stakeholders to contact their legislators on the other education issues on the special session agenda. Legislators need to hear from you!

 


Lt. Gov. Patrick outlines teacher pay, TRS proposals

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlined a plan Thursday that on the surface promised a raise for teachers and relief for rate hikes resulting from the TRS-Care funding shortfall which lawmakers only partially covered during the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick outlines special session proposals.

Patrick proposed to provide pay increases and bonuses based on longevity, which is at odds with what is widely expected to be a performance-based plan offered by Gov. Greg Abbott. A $1,000 pay raise for the state’s roughly 350,000 teachers would carry a state fiscal note of approximately $700 million over the next biennium. Abbott and Patrick have both suggested raises could be funded through existing district budgets, which in reality would amount to an unfunded mandate districts would be unlikely to afford.

The budget passed by the Texas Senate during the regular session spent nearly $2 billion less on public schools, forcing districts to rely even more on local property tax revenue to keep funding flat relative to inflation and enrollment growth. In an unsuccessful effort to pass a voucher bill unpopular with Texas voters, the Senate blocked a plan by the House to invest an additional $1.6 billion in public education that would have increased overall funding and provided relief to schools facing potential closure as a result of the loss of Additional State Aid for Tax Relief (ASATR) funds.

On Thursday, Patrick suggested providing $150 million in relief to the mostly small, rural schools that now face a funding crisis and putting another $200 million into the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). The system was forced to raise rates in June after the legislature covered roughly half of the $1 billion shortfall facing TRS-Care heading into the 2017 legislative session.

The House plan would have made use of a common budget process known as a deferral, which Lt. Gov. Patrick referred to Thursday as a “Ponzi scheme.” Yet the lieutenant governor suggested finding $700 million in funding for his plan by using just such a deferral – this time for payments to managed care organizations. In the long term, Patrick suggested using $700 million of the $1.3 billion the Texas Lottery already sends to public education. It is important to note that such a procedure would not involve new funding, and could force local districts to cut spending in other areas in order to cover the cost.

ATPE maintains that teachers deserve a raise and relief from rising health care costs that is fully funded by the state. Without a formal proposal to review, it is difficult to judge the merits of the lieutenant governor’s plan. While it is heartening to hear the lieutenant governor acknowledge these as important issues, it’s difficult to take any proposal without new funding seriously.

The education community remains under attack by bills to weaken public schools through private school vouchers and legislation to silence educators by banning payroll deduction for membership association dues. Both the governor and lieutenant governor support these bills.

 

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: June 30, 2017

Here’s your Independence Day weekend edition of ATPE’s weekly advocacy wrap-up:

 


ATPE members testified against anti-educator payroll deduction bills in Feb. 2017.

ATPE members testified against anti-educator payroll deduction bills in Feb. 2017.

With a special session slated to begin on July 18, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has been rounding up authors for his ambitious 20-item legislative agenda, which includes a number of high-profile education issues. Yesterday, the governor announced which pair of lawmakers will be carrying his preferred legislation to prohibit educators from using payroll deduction for their voluntary association dues. They are freshman Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), and Gov. Abbott thanked them in a press release yesterday for agreeing to carry the so-called “union dues” legislation.

Sen. Hughes said in the governor’s press release that “taxpayers shouldn’t be responsible for collecting their dues,” lending his voice to those in the Republican party who have tried to mislead voters into believing that taxpayer dollars are being spent as a result of educators’ payroll deduction choices. The governor and lieutenant governor have made repeated references to the notion of taxpayer resources being spent in order to process public employees’ payments to professional associations like ATPE, despite overwhelming evidence that the practice does not result in any additional costs to the state, school districts, or taxpayers. In fact, Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who carried the same anti-educator legislation during the recent regular session, openly debunked the myth about wasted taxpayer resources during her committee’s hearing of Senate Bill 13 back in February. Those facts haven’t kept Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick from repeating their well-rehearsed lines about taxpayer resources and trying desperately to gin up support for these anti-educator bills that they will once again push during the special session. Now, unfortunately, we can add Sen. Hughes and Rep. Isaac to the list of lawmakers jumping on that same fact-challenged bandwagon to try to silence the voices of educators. For his part, Rep. Isaac was similarly quoted in the governor’s press release yesterday as saying, “It’s long past time to end the outdated practice of using taxpayer-funded resources to collect dues for private organizations.”

17_web_AdvocacyCentral_RotatorImages_ATC_1217-49_StopAttacksATPE will continue to fight efforts to take away educators’ right to use payroll deduction in the manner they choose for spending their own hard-earned dollars. We encourage ATPE members to visit Advocacy Central and use our tools to send a message to state legislators about this needless attack on educators who choose to join professional organizations that advocate for them and for our public schools.

In similar session preparation news, it has also been reported this week that Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) will be the designated authors for private school voucher legislation during the special session. Taylor, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, was the author of Senate Bill 3 during the regular session, the signature voucher bill pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) as one of his top three priorities. Simmons also carried voucher legislation during the regular session and tried unsuccessfully to get the House to consider including vouchers for students with special needs in its major school finance bill.

Related: For more coverage of the education topics that will be considered during the upcoming special session, check out two recent articles from The Texas Tribune republished with permission on our blog:

 


ATPE's Monty Exter, Carl Garner, and Gary Godsey meet with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady in June 2017.

ATPE’s Monty Exter, Carl Garner, and Gary Godsey meet with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady in June 2017.

As we reported on our blog last week, ATPE state officers and lobbyists traveled to Washington, DC to meet with Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and others about improving educators’ Social Security benefits. Brady has spearheaded recent efforts to replace the Windfall Elimination Provision, an offset in federal law that causes many Texas educators and other public servants to see their retirement benefits reduced.

While those efforts to change the federal law are ongoing, we’ve got information about some new tools that can help educators better predict how their Social Security benefits could be affected by such offsets. Check out our blog post with details about the new Social Security benefit calculators from the federal government that will help you learn the extent to which your payments will be reduced by the WEP or the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

In other retirement news this week, the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) is considering changing its eligibility rules for providers of certain financial products. The rules pertain to 403(b) investment products, which many educators use to supplement their savings for retirement in addition to receiving a TRS pension. TRS staff hosted an informal conference this week to gather feedback on the rules from interested stakeholders. For more on the potential 403(b) rule changes, read this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter.

 


Rally_promo_2017

ATPE is joining with other education allies on Monday, July 17, to help sponsor a pro-public education rally at the Texas State Capitol. The event is slated to begin at 1:30 pm and will feature guest speakers and live entertainment. Educators, parents, students, and all backers of our public schools are encouraged to attend and show their support for public education on the eve of the special session that we know will feature many troubling bills to defund our public schools, take away educators’ benefits, and dilute local control. We’ll be providing additional details about the rally during the next two weeks. For additional information in the meantime, check out this post from the rally organizers on Facebook.

 


ATPE wishes you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Boys Holding Sparklers


Texas House approves SB 7 misconduct bill

On Tuesday, the Texas House passed Senate Bill (SB) 7, the educator misconduct bill passed by the Senate last month. Several amendments were attached to the bill Monday on the House floor, including one that would withhold the pensions of school employees convicted of certain sexual offenses, including inappropriate relationship between an educator and student.

State Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) attached two amendments. One added parental notification requirements laid out in HB 218, which was heard in March by the House Public Education Subcommittee on Educator Quality. The other required public school employees to disclose any criminal misconduct charges or convictions on a pre-employment affidavit based on HB 1799.

State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) added an amendment to strip the pensions of public school employees convicted of felony sexual offenses. State Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) amended the amendment by ensuring the full pension amount would be able to go to an innocent spouse instead.

The House approved SB 7 on second reading Monday, then again on third reading and final passage Tuesday by a vote of 146-0. The bill will now be returned to the Senate as amended, and the Senate will have the option to either concur with the House amendments or appoint members to a conference committee.

House Public Education revives bill regulating DOIs

The House Public Education Committee called an impromptu meeting Friday afternoon to vote on a pending bill and reconsider the vote on a bill that failed on Thursday.

House Public Education Committee meeting Friday, May 5, 2017.

House Public Education Committee meeting Friday, May 5, 2017.

The committee revived HB 3635 by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), which failed on a 5-4 vote Thursday. The bill was passed upon reconsideration Friday by a vote of 7-2. HB 3635 would require the commissioner to establish objective eligibility and performance standards, including academic and financial performance, for districts pursuing DOI status. Would require DOI plans to include performance objectives and allow the commissioner to terminate a DOI after a single unacceptable performance rating. Vice-chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) and state Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) voted against the bill.

The committee unanimously passed HB 4111 by state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), which would allow an open-enrollment charter school that has been rated lower than satisfactory solely due to a data error reported by the charter to PEIMS to have its rating corrected.

The committee is expected to next meet Tuesday morning to discuss five Senate bills.

House Public Education Committee passes final House bills

The House Public Education Committee met during a break in floor activity Thursday afternoon to vote on the final set of House bills before Monday’s committee referral deadline. The committee approved the following:

Texas House of Representatives stands adjourned as committees meet, May 4, 2017.

Texas House of Representatives stands adjourned as committees meet, May 4, 2017.

  • HB 588, which would establish a grant program for promoting computer science certification and professional development for teachers.
  • CSHB 1023, which would allow the TEA commissioner to grant more than one charter for an open-enrollment charter school to a charter holder if the additional charter is for an open-enrollment charter school that serves a distinct purpose or student population. The bill passed 7-3, with state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and state Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) voting against.
  • HB 1585, which would require a district include student input in the local instructional plan process.
  • HB 1651, which would replace the current classroom supply reimbursement program, which is subject to appropriation and not guaranteed, with a blanket $200 reimbursement per teacher per school year.
  • HB 2010, which would require the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to make information available regarding workplace safety training that may be included as part of a district’s curriculum for grades 7 through 12.
  • HB 2014, which would allow the TEA commissioner to designate a campus as a “mathematics innovation zone.”
  • HB 2093, which would order TEA conduct a study and issue a report to determine the most appropriate method for including the performance of gifted and talented students in determined school accountability.
  • HB 2519, which would order a study on dropout prevention and recovery for students who drop out before entering the ninth grade.
  • HB 2537, which would require a school counselor to inform a parent or guardian of the availability of education and training vouchers and tuition and fee waivers to attend an institution of higher education for a student who is or was in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
  • HB 2775, which would allow non-classroom teacher certification observations to be held on the candidate site or through video technology. The bill passed on a vote of 10-1.
  • HB 3244, which would allow a district to provide a salary bonus “or similar compensation” to a teacher who completes autism training through a regional education service center.
  • CSHB 3347, which would allow districts to establish before-school or after-school programs, but prohibit them from using state or local funds appropriated to the district for educational purposes to support such a program.
  • HB 3632, which would extend the timeframe for requesting a special education due process hearing for the child of a service member.
  • HB 3767, which would require a local school board to annually certify with TEA that the local board has established the required district- and campus-level committees.
  • HB 3800, which would specify that an open-enrollment charter school is a political subdivision for the purposes of Chapter 617, Government Code, which prohibits strikes and collective bargaining by public employees. The bill passed on a vote of 9-2, with Vice-Chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Gooden voting against.
  • CSHB 4140, which would rename the instructional materials allotment (IMA) the “instructional materials and technology allotment” and require districts to consider “open education resources” before purchasing instructional materials. The bill passed on a vote of 8-3, with Rep. Gooden, state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) and state Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) voting against.
  • HB 4151, which would transfer responsibility for reporting bacterial meningitis information from TEA to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
  • CSSB 826, which would loosen sequencing for advanced English and mathematics courses.
  • SB 160 (HB 713), which would end the de facto “cap” on special education enrollment unveiled by the Houston Chronicle.
  • SB 579 (HB 1583), which would extend epinephrine auto-injector regulations, privileges, grant eligibility and immunity from liability to private schools.
  • SB 671 (HB 1451), which would require SBOE adopt criteria to allow a student to earn one of the two foreign language credits required for high school graduation by successfully completing a dual language immersion program at an elementary school.
  • SB 1480 (HB 467), which would adjust the language regarding the capacity available to charter holders under the bond guarantee program to back bonds with the Permanent School Fund (PSF).

The committee failed to pass CSHB 3635, which would require the commissioner to establish objective eligibility and performance standards, including academic and financial performance, for districts pursuing DOI status. Vice-Chair Bernal, Rep. King, Rep. Gooden and Rep. Dutton voted against the bill, which failed in a 5-4 vote.

The committee will next meet Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. to hear Senate bills.

House Public Education approves dozen more bills

The House Public Education Committee advanced another series of bills in a formal meeting Wednesday evening. The following bills were approved unanimously:

House Public Education Committee votes on bills, May 3, 2017.

House Public Education Committee votes on bills, May 3, 2017.

  • CSHB 194, which would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to create a special education endorsement.
  • HB 1042, which would expand a parent’s right to request their student be allowed to take home instructional materials.
  • HB 1553, which would allow a district that fails to meet standard to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an institution of higher education in order to help improve the district’s performance.
  • CSHB 1847, which would require a school to notify parents if there is not a full-time nurse on the campus.
  • CSHB 2806, which would require school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to report to PEIMS the number and percentage of students enrolled in voluntary after-school and summer programs, along with the number of campuses that offer such programs.
  • CSHB 2884, which would expand the requirement for daily physical activity in elementary school from four semesters to six.
  • CSHB 3044, which would allow a candidate for teacher certification to obtain credit for the required 15 hours of field-based experience by simply observing a certified teacher or by serving as a substitute teacher up to two years prior to or subsequent to admission in an educator preparation program.
  • CSHB 3231, which would exempt charters operated by a public senior college or university from being assigned a financial accountability rating under Section 39.082(e).
  • HB 3251, which would remove language from statute that makes the adjustment for rapid decline in taxable value of property in a school district subject to appropriation.
  • CSHB 3434, which would require TEA adopt uniform general conditions adopted by the Texas Facilities Commission for use in all building construction contracts made by school districts.
  • CSHB 3437, which would order the TEA to develop a special education recovery program for the benefit of students negatively affected by the special ed “cap.”
  • HB 3573, which would remove the exemption from municipal zoning ordinances governing public schools for charters in small municipalities from charters adjacent to a large municipality.
  • HB 3684, which would add instruction to prevent the use of e-cigarettes to the tobacco prevention section of the duties of the local school health advisory committee.
  • CSHB 4027, which would add additional guidelines to the transition plan for special education students preparing to leave the public school system.

Members are expected to meet again Thursday in order to vote on remaining legislation left pending before the committee.