Texas legislators could end up passing bills to reform the state's school finance system and help out retired teachers this special session. After the Senate voted early Thursday morning to pass a bill keeping several key state agencies alive, Gov. Greg Abbott immediately expanded the special session agenda by adding 19 items — and dramatically expanded the focus of two education-related priorities he had announced last month. view article arw

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus hinted at the Texas House’s derailed regular-session push for more state education aid by asserting that absent action, Austin taxpayers can count on ponying up more than half a billion dollars to schools in other places this year. The San Antonio Republican prefaced his Austin-centric claim by rehashing his view that Texas overly relies on property taxes to fund the schools. view article arw

Public trust in a governmental body can evaporate quickly when there is a perceived lack of transparency, intentional or not. The Comal Independent School District is facing a public relations nightmare over the proposed location of a fourth high school in this fast-growing area north of San Antonio. view article arw

The Leander ISD board of trustees continues to move closer to finalizing its budget and tax rate for the 2017-18 school year. Trustees met Thursday evening and called for a public hearing to be held Aug. 17 for the budget and tax rate. Chief Financial Officer Lucas Janda said the proposed tax rate is $1.51187 per $100 valuation, the current tax rate. view article arw

Some legislative efforts are mere window-dressing while others improve lives. Some are public relations bulletins for politicians while others are carefully crafted efforts to address problems. Some bills are sincere; others are cynical attempts to score points in the arena of public opinion. One of Gov. Greg Abbott's education agenda items for the just-started special session falls squarely in the cynical and ignoble category. Abbott wants a $1,000 pay raise for teachers that won't require state funding.  view article arw

The Friendswood ISD board of trustees approved raising the salaries of all incoming educators by $2,500 for the 2017-18 school year at its June 12 meeting. “It’s a really robust salary plan, and I’m excited to bring it tonight,” FISD Chief Financial Officer Connie Morgenroth said. view article arw

One of the things that truly bothers me about our Anti-Public School Politicians is how they are either ignorant of school law or believe that the special interests that they are beholden to should be above the law. Take for example public school funding. Public schools in Texas are funded based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA). I will simplify the math to illustrate what this looks like. If the state sets an annual per student funding rate of $8,500.00, that does not mean that the schools receives $8,500.00 per child. view article arw

Abilene ISD pondering salaries

July 1808:25 AM

Financial decisions in front of Abilene Independent School District trustees could lead to a second consecutive budget in which a deficit is made up with reserve funds. It all depends on how much of an increase in salaries trustees deem necessary. Salaries, which account for more than 80 percent of the district's spending every year, are set to be considered next month. view article arw

Longview ISD's tax rate is expected to stay the same under the 2017-18 budget as revenue is slightly up and teachers and other staff receive pay raises, district officials said. "Our revenue projection for next year is a little bit more than what we projected for the current year," Assistant Superintendent Lynn Marshall said. "That number is $66,246,628, which reflects a $700,000-plus increase." view article arw

Less than two months after the end of a raucous legislative session, Texas lawmakers are back at it. On Tuesday, they reconvene in Austin for a 30-day special session, where they’ll consider bills that could spur big changes in the state’s schools — including private school funding for children with disabilities and bathroom restrictions for transgender students. Gov. Greg Abbott called the special session after the legislature failed to approve a reauthorization bill needed to keep several state agencies open, including the Texas Medical Board. The session also provides an opportunity for Abbott and his allies to take up a swath of key Republican causes. view article arw

Here are five things residents in the Tomball and Magnolia areas should know this week: 1. The Magnolia ISD Board of Trustees meets at 5 p.m. Monday, July 17, for a budget workshop to discuss the upcoming 2017-18 fiscal year. A regular meeting follows at 6:30 p.m. at 31141 Nichols Sawmill Road, Magnolia. view article arw

Destroy a school, destroy a neighborhood. Destroy a neighborhood, destroy a town. That’s what local educators, civic activists, political party representatives and other local leaders worry could happen if state lawmakers don’t take a hard look at public education funding in the special session legislative session starting Tuesday.  Community members joined in a public town hall meeting organized by the McLennan County Democratic Party on Saturday at the West Waco Library to discuss how to save the state’s education system. view article arw

Boyd ISD expects to dip into its reserves to cover expenses in 2017-18. Based on figures from a first look at the budget Thursday night during the Boyd School Board meeting, the district will face a deficit of $620,693, including $612,719 on the maintenance and operations side. The district officials anticipate a drop of $202,827 in revenues from $10.485 million to $10.282 million with preliminary expenses tallying $10.82 million. view article arw

The Jacksonville ISD Board of Trustees will hold a meeting on Monday, July 17. The regular meeting will begin at 6:30 and will be held in the Board Room of the JISD Administration Building on 800 College Avenue. There will be a number of items on the agenda. The trustees will consider August 28, 2017, as the date to have a public hearing about the proposed 2017-18 budget and proposed tax rate. Lindy Finley will be the presenter. view article arw

Despite a $34 million drop in revenue for the coming budget year, Aldine ISD school board members gave teachers a 2 percent pay raise for the 2017-18 school year, hoping to keep the district's salaries competitive.  Aldine could afford the raises and maintain a balanced budget by pulling $44.5 million out of its dwindling reserves. But unless the district makes cuts or receives an infusion of cash soon, Aldine can only tap that "rainy day fund" for a few more years before money runs out.  "It looks grim," said Viola Garcia, president of the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees.  view article arw

On July 13, we hosted an open house and ribbon cutting for our district office in Shepherd. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who was able to join us in person, and to those that called and sent their best wishes. With well over 200 guests signed in, I have to give it to the people of Houston District 18; you braved the heat, a tight office, limited parking, and still came with a smile and a hug. I also want to offer a special thanks to those that made sure traffic was flowing and that people crossing the street were able to do so safely. view article arw

The Longview ISD school board will meet Monday to consider a proposed tax rate and pay increases. view article arw

With school districts required to approve budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year by August, local boards of trustees have been working on preliminary budgets this summer for the coming school year. Budget projections were presented to the Lake Travis ISD board of trustees June 6 and to Leander ISD trustees May 18. The Eanes ISD board of trustees approved its proposed budget at a meeting June 20. view article arw

Trustees discussed possible tax ratification elections this November as a result of a penny exchange. A penny exchange allows a school district to move 2 cents from its interest and sinking tax rate, which is subject to state recapture, into its maintenance and operations tax rate, which is not subject to recapture for amounts over $1 per $100 of valuation, said Chris Scott, Eanes ISD executive director for business services. This allows a district to retain more money without increasing the tax rate.  view article arw

Following a few weeks of discussion and a single public hearing, early voting is now underway here for a tax ratification election to help fund an across-the-board staff compensation plan as well as facility and classroom upgrades. Mercedes ISD officials have called a tax ratification election for Saturday, July 29, in which voters will consider moving 13 cents from the school district’s interest and sinking fund to maintenance and operations — otherwise referred to as the I&S and M&O. If approved, the measure would generate $4 million without raising taxes, according to an online notice posted on the misdtx.net homepage. view article arw

Boyd ISD expects to dip into its reserves to cover expenses in 2017-18. Based on figures from a first look at the budget Thursday night during the Boyd School Board meeting, the district will face a deficit of $620,693, including $612,719 on the maintenance and operations side. The district officials anticipate a drop of $202,827 in revenues from $10.485 million to $10.282 million with preliminary expenses tallying $10.82 million. view article arw

The primary focus of school finance should be public schools, but school vouchers need to be addressed, said Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) as he gave an update on the 85th legislature to Weatherford Rotary members Wednesday. King was chosen by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to lead the legislative effort in creating a Texas Commission on Public School Finance during the legislature’s special session, which starts July 18. view article arw

With the start of the special legislation session less than a week away, Morning Edition is looking at issues on the agenda. Today, we answer a listener question about a proposed $1,000 pay increase for teachers: Who is pushing for the increase and where is it coming from? view article arw

As Conroe ISD officials await results of education items listed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the state’s special legislative session, scheduled to begin July 18, the preliminary fiscal year 2017-18 budget was announced by the district during a June 20 board meeting. The district’s estimated expenditures total $473.3 million, and approximate revenue sources total $473.7 million. This leaves a projected surplus of $398,067 to be kept in the general fund balance to support the FY 2018-19 budget, CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice said. view article arw

Maintaining the current ad valorem tax rate was one of several highlights in Dripping Springs ISD’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which was approved unanimously by board trustees June 26. The budget, presented by Assistant Superintendent Elaine Cogburn, reflects the district’s practice of having revenues fund ongoing expenditures and limiting the amount of those expenditures in order to keep a balance. view article arw

Mary Courtney was one of KIPP Houston's biggest advocates, even as she had to borrow money from relatives to keep up with payments to the charter school. She drove to Austin during School Choice Week, talking to lawmakers about why they should better fund charter schools. She volunteered on campus. She paid thousands in fees so her boys and other students could have access to books and science materials. view article arw

The 85th Legislature recently passed a law requiring all new school buses purchased after Sept. 1 to have three-point seat belts, which include shoulder and lap straps, for all passengers. The law may seem like a win for all involved with the additional safety measure to protect children. The National Transportation Safety Board in recent years started recommending all school buses come equipped with the three-point belts, despite buses’ other safety features and impressive safety record without seat belts. view article arw

Henderson ISD is seeing declining property values for the third straight year, but Superintendent Keith Boles said the district expects to come out on top in its 2017-18 budget because of expected additional revenue and planned cost savings.  A preliminary look at the budget also included salary raises for teachers and other employees, but district officials were waiting to see the outcome of the Legislature's looming special session and Gov. Gregg Abbott's call for teacher pay raises before officially taking action. view article arw

Karnack ISD, eyeing tighter budgets ahead, will see its superintendent also serve as principal of the district's elementary school this fall. "Due to the current status of school finance in the state, combined with our enrollment, we were looking at ways to save the district money," said Superintendent Amy Dickson. "In our research, we found that several school districts our size, and even larger ones, have superintendents that serve dual roles as campus principals." view article arw

The Columbus ISD school board voted unanimously to adjust the teacher pay scale so that district teachers will get raises at the July 9 CISD school board meeting. “We could never pay our teachers what they are worth, but this is a great way to reward our people,” CISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Morris said. view article arw

Educators employed by Waxahachie ISD have approximately 1,000 extra reasons to begin counting down to the first school bells of the upcoming year. During their regular monthly meeting held Monday, July 10 in the Mabel and Eva Grizzard Board Room, the WISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved salary raises for teachers, auxiliary staff and administrators. For educators, the increase means an extra $1,000 or so added to their yearly income. view article arw

Mesquite ISD announced its policy for providing free and reduced-price mealsfor children served under the current Federal income eligibility guidelines. Each school and the Food & Nutrition Services office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by anyone on request. view article arw

The Killeen Independent School District’s board of trustees will meet today to further discuss the fiscal year 2018 budget. At the district’s board workshop June 20, members discussed KISD’s updated strategic facilities plan that would cause the district to spend nearly $300 million on new facilities over the next four years. view article arw

The business of the 2017-18 fiscal year operating budget is on the agenda for Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of Henderson Independent School District trustees. Trustees will hear a report regarding the proposed spending plan and will later consider for approval a compensation plan that would provide $1,000 raises for all teachers and a 2 percent salary increase (based on a midpoint figure) for all other district employees. view article arw