Education Bills Address Finance Overhaul, Teacher Certifications, Special Programs | Ksst Radio

Education Bills Address Finance Overhaul, Teacher Certifications, Special Programs

The last two days have been busy ones as far as education goes in both the Senate and House, with bill impacting budgets, special populations, educators’ pay and a variety of other related topics.

WEDNESDAY

The Texas House passed a bill supposed to be targeted at reforming the school finance system.

The bill allocates $6.3 billion of new funding for Texas public schools and students, and dedicates $2.7 billion for property tax compression. The bulk of that new funding will go to increase the basic allotment from $5,140 to $6,030 and create a new early childhood allotment to fund full-day prekindergarten for eligible students. HB 3 also reduces recapture by almost 40 percent by reducing district payments from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion, Texas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations department reports.

The House reportedly amended the bill to require 25 percent of any basic allotment increase going forward to be spent on equal pay raises for full-time, non-administrative staff in an effort to help fund teacher pay raises.

Of course, rarely is a bill passed without significant give and take. Some of the amendments added to HB 3, TASB reports, include:
creating a summer CTE grant program for districts to offer CTE courses during the summer,

  • requiring districts to report their G/T spending to TEA,
  • ensuring districts don’t limit the number of students districts may identify as gifted and talented,
  • requiring districts to adopt a policy regarding the use of funds to support the district’s G/T programs,
  • allowing school districts to provide a salary bonus or other incentive to a teacher who completes training related to autism,
  • requiring districts to report to the legislature every biennium salary increases of employees subject to the minimum salary schedule,
  • requiring districts to adopt plans with specific annual goals regarding measures of student college, career, and military readiness,
  • requiring the commissioner of education to provide funding to districts for students receiving special education to comply with federal maintenance of state financial support requirements (which TEA estimates to be around $228 million),
  • creating hold harmless provisions for certain small districts,
  • allowing districts to use up to 20 percent of an academic services grant allotment to contract with private providers for supplemental academic services for students with dyslexia.

THURSDAY

The Senate Education Committee passed bills on Thursday dealing with certain teacher certifications, services for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, agreements between public junior colleges and school districts, a new Texas Education Agency office to conduct certain investigations and teacher service days.

Below are summaries, provided by TASB, of the bills the Senate Education Committee passed on Thursday:

  • SB 54 clarifies that in determining the accountability performance of a school district or campus, a student participating in a regional day school program for the deaf whose parent does not reside in the school district providing program services is not considered a student of the district or campus in which the program is physically located.
  • SB 251 clarifies that a public junior college may enter into an agreement to offer one or more courses with any school district located in a county in which the service area of the junior college is wholly or partly located or in a county adjacent to a county in which the service area of the junior college is wholly or partly located. A high school student enrolled in a school district may enroll in a course at any public junior college that has entered into an agreement with that school district to offer the course.
  • SB 676 permits a person whose parent is an active-duty member of the US armed forces to establish residence for purposes of attending public school (including charter school) by providing the school district or charter school a copy of a military order requiring the parent’s transfer to a military installation in or adjacent to the district or charter attendance zone.
  • SB 863 (Watson) directs TEA to conduct an ongoing study to examine costs associated with dual credit courses offered at public high schools. The bill sets out data collection requirements and report components. Not later than December 1 of each even-numbered year, TEA must submit a report on the results of the study to state leadership.
  • SB 895 requires the commissioner of education and the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission to ensure that language acquisition of each child age eight or younger who is deaf or hard of hearing is regularly assessed using valid and reliable assessment tools.
  • SB 933 creates an office of inspector general at TEA to investigate, prevent, and detect criminal misconduct and wrongdoing, fraud, waste, and abuse in the administration of public schools, charter schools, regional education service centers and other local education agencies. The commissioner of education may authorize special accreditation investigations to be conducted by the office of inspector general when there are allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the administration of public education.
  • SB 1276 relates to agreements between school districts and public institutions of higher education to provide dual credit programs to high school students. The agreements must include specific goals aligned with statewide goals for dual credit; establish common advising strategies; provide for alignment of endorsements with post-secondary pathways, credentials, and certifications; and identify tools that will assist school counselors, parents, and students in selecting endorsements.
  • SB 1731 permits a person to receive a teaching certificate by completing a bachelor’s degree with an education major or another academic major and does not constrain the credit hours required for pedagogically focused course work. Current law does not permit the award of a teaching certificate to individuals who have only an education major. Current law also prohibits a teacher preparation program from requiring more than 18 semester credit hours of pedagogically focused coursework for the granting of a teaching certificate.
  • SB 2073 requires a school district that provides fewer than 180 days of instruction to reduce proportionally the number of days of service by educators. Reduction of days of service would not reduce an educator’s salary.

Author: Faith Huffman

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