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WHEREAS, In an inspiring display of cooperation and hometown pride, community members have worked together to set the Buckholts Independent School District on a new path to success; and WHEREAS, Located in a single school building, the district has served the small town of Buckholts for nearly 130 years; recently, the community learned that Buckholts ISD, which is funded by a very limited budget, had begun to underperform and was at risk of closure; and view article arw

AUSTIN – With the state’s Rainy Day Fund approaching a record $12 billion, up from about half that amount just five years ago, the  Texas House's top budget writer says  the current sluggish pace of tax collections means  lawmakers might have to have to spend some of that emergency money.  “We have $12 billion set aside,” said state Rep. John Zerwas, a Fort Bend County Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. “But we’re not tapping into it.” view article arw

The Trump administration on Wednesday rescinded guidelines issued by former President Obama that directed public schools to accommodate transgender students — a move that will do little to deter conservative leaders in Texas from moving forward with the "bathroom bill" currently in the Legislature.  Pulling back on federal protections for transgender students, the administration moved to withdraw the guidelines — which required schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity — because of "legal and procedural" concerns related to how they were issued. view article arw

As the 85th Texas Legislative session is under way, school districts across the state are wondering if equality in state funding will transpire from this session.   For over 30 years, state legislators have penalized school districts with less than 1,600 students and less then 300 square miles by arbitrarily funding the cost per student at a much lower rate then those over 300 square miles.  The legislator’s philosophy for doing this was two fold; first, they understood that the cost per student increased as the number of students in a district decreased.  Many felt that by instituting a smaller multiplier to the smaller area districts they would be more inclined to consider consolidating with a neighboring district rather than face this funding shortfall.  read more arw

A new proposal on school choice has reinvigorated chatter about vouchers with parents and legislators split on the issue, which has at times spanned political differences. Late last month Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick introduced a plan that includes education savings accounts and public funding for parents to send children to private and parochial schools. Senator Don Huffines of Dallas County is a coauthor of SB 3. view article arw

Over the past year, the state has seen a spike in improper relationships between teachers and students. Today the State Senate's Education Committee discussed a bill that would crack down on it.Senate Bill 7 would require superintendents to report allegations of teacher misconduct to the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Bill 85 (R) HB 2297

February 2408:15 AM
 

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the waiting list for an open-enrollment charter school.          BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:          SECTION 1.  Subchapter D, Chapter 12, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 12.1172 to read as follows: view article arw

Bill 85 (R) SB 1068

February 2408:15 AM
 

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to physical fitness assessment of public school students. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:    SECTION 1.  Section 28.004(k), Education Code, is amended to   read as follows:          (k)  A school district shall publish in the student handbook   and post on the district's Internet website, if the district has an   Internet website:             (1)  a statement of the policies adopted to ensure that   elementary school, middle school, and junior high school students   engage in at least the amount and level of physical activity   required by Section 28.002(l) view article arw

This is part three in a four-part series of editorials regarding the Legislative Priorities adopted by Sealy ISD Board of Trustees in November. If you read my previous editorials, you already know that the Texas Constitution requires the state to finance the "support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools." Note the word public. Threats of vouchers from the state government prompted the board to adopt the following legislative priority:"Legislators should oppose any state voucher plan, tax credit, taxpayer savings grant, or tuition reimbursements to private institutions, home school students, or parents unless the recipient is held to the same financial and academic transparency, testing, and accountability requirements as public schools." view article arw

Before they cut programs or services, lawmakers should dip into the state’s savings account, according to a plurality of Texans in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.  The economic stabilization fund — better known as the Rainy Day Fund — has a balance of about $10 billion and is expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next two years. Legislators have been slow to draw from that account, but if they’re faced with budget cuts, 43 percent of Texans think they should get into the fund, while 31 think they should not. Democrats feel strongly about it; 57 percent would hit savings, a position taken by 37 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans and only 30 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party. In contrast, 59 percent of the Tea Party Texans would leave that rainy day money alone, a position shared by 33 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats. view article arw

 About 260,000 retired Texas teachers rely on a health insurance system that is partly state funded, but a $1 billion shortfall has left the program on the verge of collapse. Lawmakers last session plugged a $768 million funding hole in the system, which enabled it to continue without raising retirees' premiums. But with oil and gas revenues down, budget makers say Texas has less financial wiggle room this session than last, and thus far, proposals don't provide extra funding for TRS-Care, which covers retired teachers. view article arw

The argument for and against school voucher programs goes around and around; However, the Texas Constitution leaves no room for doubt. “ ARTICLE 7. EDUCATION Sec. 1. SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” There is no provision for depleting public free school funds to other types of schools. view article arw

Senate Health and Human Services Committee members voted unanimously Wednesday morning to send a bill aimed at overhauling the state's child welfare system to the full Senate for a vote. view article arw

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 85 (R) 2297

February 2308:15 AM
 

AN ACT relating to the waiting list for an open-enrollment charter school.  BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1.  Subchapter D, Chapter 12, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 12.1172 to read as follows: view article arw

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 85(R) HB 2298

February 2308:15 AM
 

AN ACT relating to the ineligibility of certain persons affiliated with an open-enrollment charter school for election to or service on the State Board of Education or a school district board of trustees. view article arw

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 85 (R) HB 2296

February 2308:15 AM
 

AN ACT relating to a teacher to student ratio requirement for public school special education programs. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1.  Section 25.111, Education Code, is amended to read as follows: view article arw

There is a wonderful organization in Texas called Pastors for Texas Children, led by the indefatigable Pastor Charles Foster Johnson of Fort Worth. Their members span the state, and they have worked with public schools and parents to oppose vouchers, which would destroy many communities and defund their community’s public schools. view article arw

The REAL Private School Choice

February 2208:32 AM
 

I think Sean got it with this post - js - First, I have nothing against private schools or private school educators.  The important words in those two labels are “School” and “Educator.”  Second, I have no problem with parents who opts to place their child in a private school.  That is their choice.  However, the taxpayer should be under NO obligation to fund the private school choice of parent.  There are host of reasons why this is the case, many of them I have shared previously. But here is a reason I haven’t shared before. view article arw

Global investors with more than $11 trillion in assets sent a letter to Texas’ top elected leaders on Tuesday urging them to reject a proposal restricting which bathrooms transgendered people can use. It cited “troubling financial implications for the business and investment climate.” (paywalled) view article arw

Greg Abbott has heard from the NFL, and The Gov of the Great State a’ Texas is not having any. Greg’s message to the NFL is you don’t tell us Texans how to live.  Davy Crockett told Mr. Santa Ana something similar at the Alamo, which didn’t go exactly the way it was drawn on the iPad.  At least Mr. Crockett and the gang in the Misión San Antonio de Valero were fighting over something worth fighting for; Abbott’s finger-waving moment at the NFL reeks of empty political grandstanding over a hill that is not worth the price.   view article arw

Thirty days from Tuesday, drivers in Wichita Falls will be prohibited from holding a cell phone while driving.  The ordinance passed unanimously this morning after councilors discussed a proposed amendment last week and the city's legal department added a line to address some of their concerns.  Under the proposed change you would be able answer a phone call while driving with your finger to make it hands free as long as you are not holding it in your hand.  City leaders say drivers can speak on a hands-free device whether that be a speaker phone or blue tooth. view article arw

AUSTIN -- The former president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership was named Tuesday to head the state's largest business lobby group.  In his new post, Jeff Moseley, a former state transportation commissioner who has most recently served as state vice president for governmental affairs for the Texas Central high-speed rail project, will replace Bill Hammond as CEO of the Texas Association of Business. view article arw

Mayors from three major Texas cities said the “Bathroom Bill” is taking up too much energy at the state Capitol where they insist the focus should be on education. Mayors Steve Adler of Austin, Mike Rawlings of Dallas and Maher Maso from Frisco each made the claim at a press conference Friday afternoon in downtown Austin where they were joined by a group of Texas mayors from San Antonio, San Marcos, Manor, Lubbock, Houston and Galveston to discuss their legislative priorities. Senate Bill 6 known as the “bathroom bill” would require people to use public bathrooms—at government buildings, public schools and public universities—based on their biological gender. The bill would supersede local-level anti-discrimination laws that allow transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. view article arw

The Austin school board Monday night unanimously approved 9-0 a resolution in support of undocumented students. The resolution includes language stating that: “all students are entitled to a public education regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents,” “schools and classrooms are safe, welcoming and inclusive places for all students and all families, regardless of their immigration status,” view article arw

The Victoria school board has received its first briefing about how the 85th Legislative session could help students. Board members received the legislative update at Thursday's board meeting in a presentation by Shawna Currie, director of communication for the district. Instead of focusing on bills, Currie gave an overview of topics and a makeup of the House and Senate because it is early into the session, she said. view article arw

Highland Park ISD officials fear the 85th Texas Legislature’s approach to education could mean bad news for Park Cities campuses. As the biannual session got under way, school officials were communicating  with state lawmakers and hoping to have their voices heard.  Potential changes on how the controversial Robin Hood law is applied could have a major impact to district funding, district leaders say.  Under the current formula, districts deemed property-rich, such as Highland Park, are forced to divert money to poorer districts. Since 1994, HPISD has paid more than $1.2 billion to the state, including  more than $80 million in 2016. While some of that money eventually flows back into the district, there is little to no local control over it. view article arw

In the 2017 Texas legislative session, Senate Bill 3 and similar bills are being championed by the governor, the lieutenant governor and others as school choice. But school choice is a euphemism for giving away our tax dollars to unregulated for-profit charter schools, religious private schools and even directly into parents’ pockets without any assurance the student is receiving an acceptable education. view article arw

As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick relentlessly pushes a bill that would restrict the public restrooms that transgender people can use, opposition to the measure is pouring into his office. Patrick’s office had received more than 10,000 calls, emails or letters opposing the Texas Privacy Act and just over 200 cheering it on within two weeks after it was filed, according to a tally provided to the San Antonio Express-News in response to a Texas Public Information Act request. His spokesman attributed the lopsided communications to an “orchestrated phone and email campaign organized by the left wing.” view article arw

Continuing our focus on the budget-writing process, which is where most of the early action is under way in the Texas Legislature, today we highlight two new subcommittees that will lead the drafting efforts in the state House and Senate on education funding. In the House, the so-called Article III subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee was formed today with jurisdiction over pre-K/12 through higher education and the related retirement systems. The subcommittee has these seven members, who will hold a public hearing on education and TRS funding next Monday, February 20: view article arw

Texas once again finds itself in the middle of a debate on the future of public education. With competing budget proposals in the Texas Senate and House, the formation of a Senate committee to develop a new school funding system, and the lieutenant governor's continued support for vouchers in any school reform plan, the path forward in education looks increasingly unclear. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott is facing strong resistance in the Legislature to his plan to increase funding this legislative session for high-quality pre-K.  The latest House budget proposal would cut all funding for a pre-K grant program that Abbott wants to see doubled in the next biennium. The House base budget publicly released in January had allocated $118 million for the program, but by the time that budget was officially filed last week, all funding for the program had been cut.  The House instead put that money into supplemental funding for pre-K, which would distribute money to almost all school districts for their pre-K programs based on the amount of students enrolled, without any strings attached. view article arw

The current strategy for Dan Patrick in trying to round up support for, or at least blunt opposition to, his bathroom bill is to claim that it will contain exceptions for sports venues, so no one needs to worry about boycotts or other bad things. Unfortunately for Dan, no one is buying it, and the actual lived experience of North Carolina remains the prime piece of evidence why. view article arw

How do you help sex-trafficking victims when they've learned the way to survive is to flee? Even when the child welfare and criminal justice systems work like they're supposed to, young victims of sex trafficking in Texas face an uncertain future. Republican lawmaker wants state funds for death penalty attorneys A Republican lawmaker wants to fund attorneys representing death-sentenced inmates who can’t afford their own lawyer.  view article arw

A long-awaited proposal to prepare Texas in the event of a constitutional convention passed its first legislative hurdle Thursday when a state Senate committee approved a trio of bills assigning instructions to potential delegates and restricting their powers. view article arw

Concerns about some education bills under consideration by the Texas Legislature is prompting Aledo ISD trustee Bobby Rigues to continue a public dialogue on the subject with State Representative Phil King and State Senator Craig Estes. Rigues, who is also CEO and founder of the nonprofit Make Education a Priority, sent the two lawmakers an open letter this week, writing that some education bills under consideration by the Texas Legislature concerned him. view article arw