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House Public Education tackles school finance bills

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

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Date Posted: 4/05/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

School finance was at the top of the agenda as the House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, April 4, 2023, to consider eight new pieces of legislation.

House Bill (HB) 11 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston) is one of Speaker Dade Phelan’s priority pieces of legislation this session. Aimed at teacher recruitment and retention, the bill expands the Teacher Incentive Allotment, expands mentorship for new teachers, and provides funding for teachers who seek bilingual or special education certifications.

ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter testified neutrally on HB 11, telling committee members that while parts of this bill, such as expanded residency programs for teacher candidates, are things ATPE could potentially support, overall the bill is too expensive, and legislators should raise the Basic Allotment as well as fund an across-the board pay raise for educators before considering other programs.

HB 100 by Rep. Ken King (R–Canadian) is another priority bill that seeks to transition most of the state’s school finance system from funding based on average daily attendance to funding based on enrollment. The bill also changes the current 20-step minimum salary schedule to a three-tier salary schedule, with raises at years five and 10, stopping at year 10. This goes against ATPE’s Legislative Program, which supports the step increases in the current minimum salary schedule. For this reason, Exter testified against the bill, also asking for an increase in the Basic Allotment and asking for clarification in the bill’s language related to funding for teacher compensation.

See the rest of the day’s committee agenda here.

The following legislation was voted favorably out of committee:

  • House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 90 by Rep. Rep. John Kuempel (R–Seguin) would designate April 6 as Texas High School Coaches Day. ATPE supported this bill.
  • House Bill (HB) 681 by Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney) would give districts greater flexibility in expanding virtual school programs by repealing the sunset placed in last session’s virtual bill, Senate Bill (SB) 15. ATPE offered neutral testimony on HB 681, thanking Bell for offering school districts more flexibility while reminding committee members of the dubious track record of virtual education in Texas and urging caution in repealing the sunset provision of the bill.
  • HB 1297 by Dutton is related to electronic vision screenings in schools. 
  • HB 1614 by Dutton would expand eligibility for free pre-k programs in public schools.
  • HB 1959 by Rep. Candy Noble (R–Lucas) would allow school transfers for children of peace officers. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 2012 by Rep. Tom Oliverson (R–Cypress) ensures that no teacher can be prohibited from displaying the national motto in their classroom.
  • HB 2209 by Rep. JM Lozano (R–Kingsville) establishes a Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership Program for districts to expand their college/career pathway options for students.
  • HB 2647 by Rep. Carl Sherman (D–DeSoto) would allow school districts to create a nonvoting student trustee position on their school boards. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 2890 by Rep. Charles Cunningham (R–Humble) would change the threshold of the SBOE’s veto authority on charter school expansions from a simple majority to a two-thirds vote, thus diluting the board’s power to veto charter schools. ATPE opposed this bill with written testimony.
  • HB 2892 by Committee Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado) would allow school transfers for children of military members. ATPE supported this bill.
  • HB 3803 by Cunningham expands the right of parents to elect for their student to retake a course or grade.

The House Public Education Committee is expected to have a formal meeting Thursday, April 6, to vote on several pieces of pending business.


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