Legislative Update: Education

Education continues to be a central theme in legislative meetings, with numerous bills proposed, considered and revised.
Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor subbed SB 4 into HB 3 for school finance reform.  HB 3 tackles basic allotments, full-day kindergarten programs, salary increases for teacher and librarians, start dates for districts of innovation, kindergarten reading readiness assessments, Tier I property tax rates and caps on district property tax revenue growth, according to a release from Dax Gonzalez for Texas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations.

A lot regarding funding, including of basic allotments, property tax reform and $4 billion in teacher salary increases, remained to be determined at the conclusion of Thursday’s session. Work is expected to continue on these and other issues into next week, when officials hope to have it ready for a vote be made for HB 3.

The House on Thursday did pass SB 12, which would make the TRS pension fund actuarially sound and provide retired teachers with a one-time, 13th check of up to $2,400. The House amended the Senate’s proposed TRS fix by increasing the state contribution to the pension fund by 2 percent over the next five years compared to the Senate’s 1.45 percent and increasing the 13th check from a maximum of $500 to a maximum of $2,400. The House would pay for this increase through $684 million in general revenue spending and $658 million from the rainy day fund.  That sends it back to the Senate for adoption or referral to a conference committee to hash out the differences between the House and Senate versions, TASB reported

TASB Governmental Relations provided the regarding 11 bills passed from Thursday from the Senate Education Committee to the full Senate, and seven bills the House Public Education Committee has up for consideration Tuesday mornihg.

Senate Education Bills

  • SB 232 requires school districts to notify parents of students in grade nine or above that the student is not required to complete Algebra II to graduate but also notifying parents about the consequences of not completing Algebra II on automatic college admission and on certain financial aid programs. Notice must be delivered by regular mail and email.
  • SB 293 amends the section of the Education Code that governs educator preparation programs and specifies qualifications for participants in those training programs. SB 293 directs the State Board for Educator Certification to specify what each educator is expected to know and be able to do, particularly with regard to students with disabilities. Training must give educators a basic knowledge of disability categories, competence in the use of proactive instructional technique, and competence in the use of evidence-based inclusive instructional practices. Provisions for educator preparation program approval and renewal are amended to incorporate proactive instructional planning techniques throughout course work and across content areas. Training programs must integrate inclusive practices for all students, including students with disabilities, and evidence-based instructional intervention strategies for all students, including students with disabilities.
  • SB 451 would allow school districts flexibility to use the bilingual education allotment to pay the salary of a bilingual education teacher.
  • SB 784 prohibits districts from offering human sexuality instruction unless the commissioner of education determines that the district’s instruction and curriculum materials have been made available to parents and notice of the dates of the instruction and detailed description of the content has been provided to parents. The commissioner must make this determination not later than the 30th day before the first day of school.
  • SB 869 (Powell), as filed, would direct the commissioner of state health services to create a committee to assist in updating guidelines for care of students at risk for anaphylaxis. School districts and charter schools would adopt and administer a policy for the care of students with a diagnosed food allergy at risk for anaphylaxis based on the guidelines developed by the committee.
  • SB 1016, as filed, would require TEA to conduct an audit at least every four years of professional development requirements and any other continuing education and training requirements.
  • SB 1045, as filed, would allow public schools that offer full-time virtual education to receive separate accountability ratings for the virtual programs and the traditional programs.
  • SB 1182 authorizes the attorney general to review the record of public notice and hearings relating to any bond financing of an educational facility for an authorized charter school, and then to issue an approval.
  • SB 1284, as filed, would requires the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to establish a competitive grant program to promote early literacy.
  • SB 1374, as filed, would allow a student to enroll concurrently in Algebra I and geometry to satisfy the curriculum requirements for mathematics.
  • SB 2283 (Campbell) would add conviction of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor as offenses that render a member ineligible for service as a member of a school district board of trustees.

Senate Bill posted by House Pub Ed for Tuesday

  • 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 372 permits the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school to employ security personal, commission peace officers, and to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a local law enforcement agency to assign a school resource officer to the charter school.
  • SB 435 expands the local school health advisory council’s duties to include recommending appropriate grade levels and curriculum for instruction regarding opioid addiction and abuse and methods of administering an opioid antagonist.
  • SB 522 identifies proficiency in reading and writing as a significant indicator of satisfactory educational progress. The individualized education program for a student with a visual impairment must include instruction in braille unless the student’s admission, review, and dismissal committee determines and documents that braille is not an appropriate literacy medium for the student. Braille instruction must be provided by a teacher certified to teach students with visual impairments.
  • SB 1451 requires the commissioner of education to ensure that teachers cannot be assigned an area of deficiency on their appraisal solely on the basis of disciplinary referrals a teacher makes, or the documentation of student conduct a teacher submits. Additionally, a teacher would be allowed to document any conduct that does not conform to student code of conduct adopted by the campus, and protects the teacher from disciplinary action from the district on that documentation submitted.
  • SB 1557 (Lucio) allows schools to seek out designation as a “Purple Star Campus” to take actions and develop partnerships to assist military-connected students.
  • SB 2432 adds harassment as defined by the penal code to the list of offenses that would permit a school or teacher to remove a student from a classroom and placed into disciplinary alternative education programs.
  • SB 372 permits the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school to employ security personal, commission peace officers, and to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a local law enforcement agency to assign a school resource officer to the charter school.
  • SB 435 expands the local school health advisory council’s duties to include recommending appropriate grade levels and curriculum for instruction regarding opioid addiction and abuse and methods of administering an opioid antagonist.
  • SB 522 identifies proficiency in reading and writing as a significant indicator of satisfactory educational progress. The individualized education program for a student with a visual impairment must include instruction in braille unless the student’s admission, review, and dismissal committee determines and documents that braille is not an appropriate literacy medium for the student. Braille instruction must be provided by a teacher certified to teach students with visual impairments.
  • SB 1451 requires the commissioner of education to ensure that teachers cannot be assigned an area of deficiency on their appraisal solely on the basis of disciplinary referrals a teacher makes, or the documentation of student conduct a teacher submits. Additionally, a teacher would be allowed to document any conduct that does not conform to student code of conduct adopted by the campus, and protects the teacher from disciplinary action from the district on that documentation submitted.
  • SB 1557 allows schools to seek out designation as a “Purple Star Campus” to take actions and develop partnerships to assist military-connected students.
  • SB 2432 adds harassment as defined by the penal code to the list of offenses that would permit a school or teacher to remove a student from a classroom and placed into disciplinary alternative education programs.

The full TASB Governmental Relations post can be viewed online.

Author: Faith Huffman

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