Educational Legislative Update: May 1, 2019
The school finance reform bill made it one more round Wednesday, passing through the formal Senate Education Committee hearing. This bill addresses funding for basic allotments, full-day pre-kindergarten programs, teacher and librarian salary raises, school finance calculations and school and certain property tax rates.
As substituted in committee, the bill:
- Increases the basic allotment from $5,140 to $5,880. The House version raises it to $6,030.
- Creates an early education allotment for certain students in kindergarten through third grade to assist districts in funding full-day prekindergarten.
- Recognizes how poverty differently affects students by creating a sliding scale of weights in the compensatory education allotment that will reflect varying levels of poverty.
- Includes a $5,000 across-the-board salary increase for teachers and librarians.
- Creates outcomes-based funding programs for third-grade reading based on STAAR and college-, career-, and military-readiness in high school based on SAT, ACT, TSI and ASVAB.
- Establishes a dyslexia weight of 0.12.
- Increases the special education weight to 1.15.
- Provides dual-language weights for English language learners (0.15) and English speakers (0.05).
- Uses current-year values in school finance calculations.
- Creates a 0.1 weight for campuses implementing accelerated campus excellence (ACE) turnaround plans.
- Prohibits districts of innovation from starting prior to the third Monday in August.
- Requires districts to administer kindergarten reading assessments to determine kindergarten readiness.
- Requires state assessments to be administered electronically, in smaller chunks, and not on Mondays.
- As introduced in the Senate Education Committee, the bill compresses tier I school property tax rates by 8 cents in the first year and 15 cents in the second year (second year cut contingent upon passage of a sales tax increase) and, in the third year, caps school district property tax revenue growth at 2.5 percent. It was suggested during the hearing Wednesday that there were changes to the property tax reform section of the bill that would provide alleviation to the rollback rate in the event that inflation grew to certain levels.
- Creates a $40,000 homestead exemption, up from $25,000 in current law if the sales tax increase bill passes.
- Calls for a 60×30 progress report tracking the postsecondary outcomes of students enrolled in school districts or charters and by each high school.
- Requires districts to create plans on 60×30 goals and early childhood literacy plans.
- Requires that students complete a FASFA or TASFA before graduating.
- Creates a blended learning program grant managed by the commissioner of education.
Sen. Paul Bettencourt expressed his inability to vote in favor of the bill because of the lack of study surrounding the complex tax changes the bill was introducing. The committee passed the bill on an 8-0 vote with Sens. Bettencourt, Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) registering as present but not voting for the bill.
Committee Chairman Larry Taylor Taylor expects for the Senate to consider the bill on Friday.
To watch the committee proceedings, visit http://tlcsenate.granicus.com/M