Claycomb Associates, Architects

Lawmakers in the 86th Texas Legislature have several ideas to slow property tax growth and overhaul education finance. Republican leaders announced a plan in January that would reduce the state’s 8 percent limit on rollback tax revenue growth to 2.5 percent for cities, counties and school districts. Proponents say the cap would slow future tax increases. view article arw

Additional legislation to address cyber bullying in schools were introduced this legislative session. State Senator José Menéndez, (D-26), filed Senate Bills 885, 11178 and 1390 and Rep. Steve Allison, (R-121) filed HB 2642, 3411 and 3429 to enhance David’s Law, an anti-bullying measure for schools. David’s Law was driven by the family of David Molak, a 16-year old, San Antonio native and Alamo Heights Independent School District student who committed suicide in 2016 due to facing severe cyber bullying. view article arw

Teachers and education supporters rallied at the Capitol Monday to demand lawmakers raise pay for school district employees and put more money into public schools across Texas. The rally, led by teacher unions Texas AFT and the Texas State Teachers Association, comes as both chambers of the state legislature have now released their initial plans to tackle school finance this session. The Senate's plan — filed Friday — is vague. Much of the language is placeholder, as senators continue to obtain input from educators. The upper chamber has already passed an across-the-board $5,000 pay raise for teachers and librarians. view article arw

On Monday, hundreds of teachers and school employees rallied at the Texas State Capitol, calling on lawmakers for more funding for public school students, teachers and retired teachers. The rally was held ahead of a public hearing on the Texas House's $9 billion school finance plan scheduled for Tuesday morning.  view article arw

As Texas lawmakers take their first hard look at a $9 billion school finance measure this week, some parents are already calling for revisions. Specifically, families with children enrolled in gifted and talented programs want lawmakers to restore dedicated funding for those programs. “These kids deserve their specific curriculum and opportunities to really stretch and to be able to get all they can from school,” said Paulina van Eeden Hill, executive director of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. view article arw

Putting students and teachers first is the direction lawmakers in the state are prioritizing this legislative session by transforming the way public schools are funded. "Every child can succeed but we have to give them the support and resources to students, to the teachers," said George McShan, former Harlingen C.I.S.D School Board Trustee. McShan was on the Harlingen C.I.S.D. school board for 30 years. He believes the bill puts the state of Texas in the right direction and will have a huge impact in the Rio Grande Valley. view article arw

You might want to know how your inheritance — and that of your children and grandchildren — is being invested. Who is handling the money? How much are they charging? What are the returns on your investment? When it comes to your inheritance from our founding lawmakers, a $44 billion endowment created to forever help fund public education, the answers to those questions are obscured, buried in redacted reports and in documents labeled "Highly Confidential." view article arw

As we look up and find ourselves in the midst of another legislative session, I keep reflecting on the quote, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Recently, a group of volunteers and locally elected officials traveled to the Texas Capitol for Denton County Days. It’s an annual pilgrimage organized by our local Chamber of Commerce with the purpose to advocate for Denton County through a common lens and keep the topics our residents face in the forefront for our state’s lawmakers. view article arw

Sixty days into the 140-day legislative session, with an important bill-filing deadline passing on Friday, the outlines of key legislative battles are taking shape at the Capitol. If the 2017 regular legislative session revolved around the combustible issues of transgender bathroom rights and sanctuary cities, this one is about bread-and-butter, kitchen-table matters like property taxes and state money for schools. The central tension of 2019 is whether lawmakers can direct more money to schools while constraining the ability of schools — and cities and counties — to raise money through taxes. view article arw

Tuesday, educators from across the state testified at the capitol in the on-going fight for more public school funding. They told lawmakers how HB 3, also known as The Texas Plan, will impact teachers and students in their communities.  Many big-city districts support HB 3 because those districts collect more money on property taxes. HB 3 would allow those districts to keep more of that money by reducing their recapture payments to the state by 38 percent. However, some small, rural districts say The Texas Plan has unintended consequences for them. view article arw

Hundreds of educators from across Texas traveled to Austin Monday to spend the first day of their spring break rallying for increased state funding for public schools.  Standing on the steps of the capitol and chanting “the time is now,’ the participants  called on lawmakers to follow through on promises to overhaul the school finance system and boost state spending on education.  Before legislators can make that happen, the Senate and the House will have to reconcile competing visions. Senate leadership has earmarked much of their proposed funding boost for teacher raises, while the bill backed by House leadership would significantly increase per student spending. view article arw

Amarillo Independent School District officials have made revisions to a pair of school bond projects, with one action paring an overage by $1.6 million. During its special session school board members were presented for consideration approval of the ranking and selection of a contractor for the auditorium and toilet renovations at Amarillo and Tascosa high schools, as well as toilet renovations and drop off area improvements at Coronado and Lee elementary schools. view article arw

State representatives and senators each think their respective plan for increasing teacher pay is better, but Texas educators said Monday neither chamber’s proposal addresses what teachers and support staff need. view article arw

Dennis Bonnen was supposed to speak to an assembly of elementary students in his district about his work as a state representative in Austin. But instead, the Angleton Republican decided to get personal. He told them about his experience with dyslexia and how he struggled to keep up in school.   view article arw

Standardized testing and its measuring practices in Texas have been called into question again after a recent article published in Texas Monthly (www.texasmonthly.com/news/texas-kids-failing-staar-tests-rigged/). The article alluded there seemed to be an anomaly occurring in classrooms throughout the state of Texas regarding STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) testing results which questioned whether kids were actually failing or the tests might actually be rigged. Students who were otherwise doing well in all subjects and passing their classes were somehow failing STAAR tests. Educators, parents and students are adversely affected by these outcomes. According to Governor Greg Abbott and other prominent state leaders, only 40 percent of Texas third graders are reading at grade level. Many educators and parents are questioning whether the STAAR test reading passages might be too hard with results that low. view article arw

Van Vleck Superintendent John O’Brien believes that newly introduced House Bill 3 might be the first step in working to alleviate the school funding issue that has dogged the Texas Legislature in the past sessions. House Bill 3 would pump billions of additional dollars into public schools but is absent of a guaranteed pay raise for teachers and other school employees that was included in Senate Bill 3 last week. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced the bills he has selected as his top priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session today. The bills designated as priorities are a result of requests and recommendations from senators and the people of Texas. While these bills represent the top 30, there are a number of additional critical bills that Lt. Gov. Patrick supports and will help pass in the current session. The lieutenant governor made the following statement on issuing his priority list:    view article arw

This past week was a frenzy as lawmakers worked feverishly to get their bills in the hopper before the March 8 deadline. Now that the constitutionally required 60-day waiting period for passing bills is over, the House will begin to take action as a collective body.With more than 4,000 House bills filed for consideration this session, it’s safe to say that the workload in the Texas House will dramatically increase over the next several weeks and months. If you would like more information about bills that have been filed, visit the Texas House website at house.texas.gov. view article arw

Teacher groups rallying public school workers at the Texas Capitol gave partial credit to lawmakers for focusing on school finance Monday but they made clear they seek much more. Prior to a midday outdoor rally, leaders of two major Texas groups said a Senate-advanced plan promising $5,000 raises to teachers and librarians was a step forward. But that action left more than half of school employees out of luck, the advocates said.  view article arw

The state’s leaders might be getting along better this year, but that doesn’t mean they are in agreement. On big issues, from growth restraints on property taxes to teacher pay to school finance, the synchronized legislating promised at the beginning of the year is starting to wear thin. That’s normal, even when they’re getting along: The House is the House and the Senate is the Senate and this arrangement was designed for disagreement. view article arw

HB 3 Huberty - 10:30 AM -  Relating to public school finance and public education Notice,  Broadcast

During a visit to North Texas Friday, the state's top eduation official said he "remains optimistic" that state lawmakers will get something done on school finance reform before the end of the current session. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath made the comments while touring Eagle Ridge Elementary in the Keller Independent School District. "The spirit is very willing and there is a high degree of alignment from our legislative leaders," said Morath. "These are thoughtful people that want the best for kids. They're just trying to come up with the best solutions." view article arw

Within hours of Friday’s midnight deadline for filing most bills for the legislative session, state Sen. Larry Taylor introduced a much-anticipated school finance package that included few details about how much more money would be injected into classrooms.Much of the Friendswood Republican’s Senate Bill 4 contains placeholders for numbers that would change multiple elements of the state’s complex school funding formula. The bill, for example, appears to make room for a change to the base amount of funding school districts receive per student as well as the multipliers that determine how much more money districts receive for educating students from poor families and those raised primarily speaking a language other than English. view article arw

The McDade community will join together on the first step in designing and building a new playground facility at McDade ISD on March 15. That day’s activities will give both students and parents an opportunity to give input into designing their dream play spaces and generate excitement for the collaborative project that will build out on May 4. The upcoming “Design Day” and new playground project is made possible by a collaboration between McDade ISD, the St. David’s Foundation, Bastrop County Cares and KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization “dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids.” The St. David’s Foundation, the main funder for the project, will invest $110,000 with KaBOOM! to build the new playground at McDade ISD.  view article arw

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate unveiled its plan to overhaul public school funding late Friday night with a bill that includes merit-based raises for teachers and outcomes-based funding for schools.   Lawmakers across Texas have committed to fixing public school finance as their top priority in the legislative session by directing more state dollars toward schools and increasing teacher salaries.  Now that the House and Senate's school bills have both been filed, it's apparent the two chambers have different ideas of how to achieve school improvements.  view article arw

Within hours of Friday’s midnight deadline for filing most bills for the legislative session, state Sen. Larry Taylor introduced a much-anticipated school finance package that included few details about how much more money would be injected into classrooms.  Much of the Friendswood Republican’s Senate Bill 4 contains placeholders for numbers that would change multiple elements of the state’s complex school funding formula. The bill, for example, appears to make room for a change to the base amount of funding school districts receive per student as well as the multipliers that determine how much more money districts receive for educating students from poor families and those raised primarily speaking a language other than English. view article arw

Skeptics of the unusual kumbaya rhetoric in the Texas Capitol have been waiting with bated breath for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to throw a grenade loaded with red-meat shrapnel into the Senate chamber. Just two months into the 86th Legislature, he may have just pulled the pin.  After a rocky 2017 session pitted two powerful political factions — the business lobby and far-right social conservatives — against each other in Patrick’s infamous bathroom battle, state leaders promised that 2019 was going to be different.   Even though the business lobby had flushed his bathroom bill down the toilet with a plunger, Patrick nonetheless declared victory and appeared eager to play nice this session.  view article arw

With the Senate’s passage of SB 3 to raise teacher and librarian salaries, and the House introducing a comprehensive school finance bill, education issues dominated the week at the Capitol. But with less than three months to go in the 86th Legislative Session, we still don’t know whether public school employees will get a raise, or whether school districts will receive more funding. Or…nothing at all. view article arw

The $9 billion school finance plan unveiled this week by Texas House leaders represents a huge leap forward in providing more of the funding that schools need. That’s a critically important step in addressing Texas’ broken school finance system. But as lawmakers from both chambers hammer out a final package, we urge them to pay equally close attention to the cost that taxpayers can afford to bear, particularly as their property values keep rising. view article arw

The bill is part of a series of proposals designed to slow property tax growth and fix how the state pays for its schools.  On the night of the deadline to file bills this legislative session, Texas Senate leaders turned in their first crack at legislation designed to reform school finance — rounding out a series of proposals in the upper chamber aiming to address rising property taxes and fix the way the state pays for its schools. view article arw

AUSTIN – With less than 48 hours until the bill filing deadline, State Senator Donna Campbell filed two significant bills on Thursday to expand school choice in Texas. Senate Bill 1905 is modeled after the popular Tuition Equalization Grant Program (TEG) for higher education and creates Tuition Equalization for Excellence (TEX) Grants for eligible students in grades K through 12. Senate Bill 1906 provides a tax credit for businesses that donate private scholarships to underprivileged children to attend the school of their choice. view article arw

Amid a push to reform the school finance system and pay teachers more, state lawmakers are considering legislation that would cut retired teachers a one-time check and shore up the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.  Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would give all retired teachers an additional payment in an amount equal to their current monthly pension check or up to $500 during the 2020-21 state budget cycle.  House Bill 9 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, would give retirees a one-time payment of up to $2,400.  view article arw

Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, on Tuesday laid out their  long-awaited school finance proposal at a press conference Tuesday, calling for raising minimum salaries for a broad group of educators, increasing health and pension benefits and offering opportunities for merit pay programs.  “This is very much overdue,” Clarksville ISD Superintendent Kermit Ward said this morning. “For so long, we have been given mandates by the state without the necessary funding to adequately support those mandates.” view article arw

The four major chambers of commerce in Bell County are pushing Texas lawmakers to find a fix to public education funding. The Belton Area, Temple, Greater Killeen, and the Harker Heights chambers of commerce on Thursday issued a joint statement advocating for the Legislature to increase the state’s share of public school funding.  Currently, the state pays 35 percent of school funding. The bulk of it — 55.5 percent — is picked up by local districts and taxpayers. The remaining 9.5 percent is paid for by federal funds. view article arw

Everyday Texans will find themselves on the short end of the stick if legislation filed by a Plano-based state representative becomes law.House Bill 2730 by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, would gut the Texas Citizens Participation Act, a law that protects average citizens from being financially ruined by meritless defamation lawsuits filed by plaintiffs with deep pockets. view article arw