From school finance and retirement to school accountability ratings, here’s your weekly wrap-up of education news from the ATPE Governmental Relations department:
- School finance commission workshops recommendations for final report
- TRS Board meets for final time this year
- TRS Pension Benefit Design Study released
- TEA shares final 2018 accountability ratings
The Texas Commission on Public School Finance met on Tuesday of this week to begin deliberating recommendations for the body’s final report due at the end of this month. Among the suggestions discussed Tuesday were (1) outcomes-based funding hinged upon early literacy and student preparedness for entrance into college, the military, or a career field without remediation; and (2) a high-quality teacher allotment that would require school districts to develop local, multi-measure assessments of their educators. Those assessments would need to comply with criteria outlined by the legislature.
While some members of the commission bristled this week at the idea of requesting more funding from the legislature, others, including House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Humble), stated that he would refuse to sign a report that did not request more funding. Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), chair of the commission’s working group on revenues, suggested that the full commission adopt Gov. Abbott’s plan to cap property taxes at 2.5% annually. Meanwhile, Leo Lopez, Chief Finance Officer for the Texas Education Agency, pointed out during Tuesday’s hearing that the governor’s plan is more of a property tax relief plan than a school finance reform plan.
A more detailed breakdown of Tuesday’s meeting can be found in this week’s blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
Other recommendations in the commission’s draft report, which can be previewed here, include prioritizing the state’s “60×30” goal, which is to have 60 percent of high school graduates eligible to enter the workforce with an industry certification, successfully join the military, or enter college without the need for remediation by the year 2030. More technical recommendations include reallocating $5.34 billion in existing revenues and revising the current weights and allotments in order to boost the basic allotment, which provides a baseline of funding for all 5.4 million school children in Texas. Throughout the commission’s year of deliberations, scores of education stakeholders and experts have shared their input, including invited testimony from ATPE back in February.
The commission will meet once more on Wednesday, Dec. 19, to vote on its final recommendations before submitting its report to the legislature as required on or before Dec. 31. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on the final vote.
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met in Austin at the TRS headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 13, and Friday, Dec. 14, for its final meeting of 2018. Board committees met on Thursday. Each committee’s meeting materials can be found below. The full board met Friday morning to consider the following agenda. Video of the board committee meetings and the full board meeting is also available for viewing.
For additional information, view the following TRS board meeting materials:
- TRS Board of Trustees Meeting Book – Dec. 14, 2018
- Audit, Compliance & Ethics Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
- Benefits Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
- Budget Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
- Investment Management Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
- Policy Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
- Strategic Planning Committee Book – Dec. 13, 2018
Today the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) released an updated Pension Benefit Design Study. This recent study augments the body of knowledge generated by a 2012 study on the pension program for Texas educators. The updated study released today by TRS outlines benefits and statistics about the pension system, and includes such findings as these, which are in line with ATPE’s positions on TRS:
• A total of 96 percent of public school employees do not participate in Social Security. For many TRS members, the only source of lifetime income in retirement is their TRS benefit. A lifetime benefit helps mitigate the risk of a retiree who — due to longevity, market volatility or failure to invest adequately — outlives his or her savings.
• A majority of TRS members would end up more financially at-risk by investing on their own in a plan with a defined-contribution component.
• The TRS benefit, as currently designed, replaces roughly 69 percent of a career employee’s pre-retirement income when that person initially retires.
• Alternate plans would be 30 to 124 percent more expensive than the current defined benefit plan to provide the same benefit level upon an employee’s retirement.
Preserving the integrity and solvency of the TRS defined-benefit pension plan for educators is one of ATPE’s priorities for the 86th legislature.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released its final academic accountability ratings for the 2018 year. The ratings include results for 1,200 school districts and charters and over 8,700 campuses within the state. While preliminary ratings were released in August, this final release includes the ratings of districts and charters that contested their initial ratings. More information about the accountability ratings can be found here. To search the ratings by district or campus, visit TXschools.org