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Feb 22, 2018 - 9 a.m.  Meeting Agenda William B. Travis Building - Room 1-104 - 1701 N. Congress Ave., Austin, TX  - The meetings will be webcast at:    read more arw

After lawmakers last year failed to overhaul how the state funds its public colleges and universities, a special committee on Wednesday will begin a new attempt to review the complicated higher education finance system in Texas. Complaints have crescendoed about eroding government support for higher education. But at stake in the coming months is not how much money Texas pumps into its colleges and universities. It’s whether the state’s method of disbursing nearly $3 billion per year to those schools through formulas and direct appropriations is due for a comprehensive makeover. view article arw

Lawmakers say local property taxes are getting too high. School leaders say the taxes are increasing because the state is taking on a smaller share of public education funding. Hey Texplainer, what's really happening? view article arw

The superintendent also signaled that he and the board are looking to develop a capital campaign that could call for a series of four bond elections over the next 20 years.  Before a crowd of over 1,000 people at the Hilton Las Americas downtown, Superintendent Richard Carranza defended early plans to overhaul how the district distributes funds to campuses and other plans to deal with a myriad of challenges facing the Houston Independent School District. view article arw

School finance expert David Thompson addressed a room full of superintendents and City leaders Tuesday afternoon with a simple analogy: School finance is like a water bottle. Holding up the bottle, Thompson presented basic principles of Texas public school finance to members of City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee and educational leaders. view article arw

FORT WORTH  Tarrant County is now front and center in the fight to lower property taxes. County Judge Glen Whitley has drawn statewide attention for preaching what he believes — that Texans pay high property taxes because the state has long cut back on what it spends to educate public school students — and now a group of local state senators is firing back. view article arw

Every two years, the Texas Legislature meets to provide funding for school districts to cover the cost of operations, personnel and educating students. As the Texas Legislature concluded the 85th legislative session this past June, there was still no change in the existing school finance system to fund Texas public schools. House Bill 21 required the legislature to establish the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to develop and make recommendations to the current public school finance system or create a new method of funding for Texas public schools. view article arw

Though nearly a half year since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, the post-storm effects seem to be just as damaging. Just days after the Houston ISD projected a $208 million shortfall next school year because of Harvey and the recovery afterward, a school board member talked about what cuts could come because of the pending shortfall. Those include consolidating bus routes, meaning longer rides to and from school. It could mean cutting custodial staff and reducing classroom cleaning to just once a week. It could mean a reduction in cafeteria staffs and on-campus security. view article arw

A standing-room-only crowd peppered Houston ISD's school board with complaints, pleas and calls for action Thursday night, their first opportunity to address trustees since administrators proposed major changes to the district's budget and operations. About 250 people, representing a wide range of interests, voiced strong opinions on proposals for 14 low-performing schools, preliminary suggestions for closing a $208 million financial shortfall and recommendations for overhauling the district's magnet system. Dozens of speakers vacillated between calm and angry, encouraging and pointed, as the meeting stretched more than four hours. view article arw

Lewisville ISD is experiencing an enrollment decrease, and the district’s demographer projects the trend is only going to continue. Bob Templeton, president of Templeton Demographics, told the LISD Board of Trustees at its last meeting that data points to the district’s enrollment to decrease by more than 2,100 students (almost 4 percent) by the 2023-24 school year. “Last year we projected four years of decline,” Templeton said. “Now we’re projecting six years of decline, and the decline is heavier.” view article arw

As HISD begins to prepare a budget for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year, the district is estimating a $208 million shortfall as result of the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey and recapture. Recapture is the term for the money the State of Texas collects from "property-rich" districts for distribution to "property-poor" districts. view article arw

Just about everyone agrees that education is one of the most important keys to the future of our young people and to the future of our nation as a whole. That's the broad view. Narrow it down and there are a lot of disagreements. Especially about how to pay for the increasingly higher expectations our schools must meet in a rapidly changing world. Add in political considerations where lawmakers try to balance low taxes with high standards and it can become more than a challenge. The whole thing can become a crisis. view article arw

Houston ISD officials painted a stark picture of what Texas' largest school district could look like if they are forced to enact proposals to close a $208.8 million budget shortfall. Almost all custodians could be cut, with schools being cleaned a couple times a week rather than every day. The number of campuses with an assigned Houston ISD police officer could fall from 89 to 24. Bus routes could be drastically cut, only sparing routes for special education and homeless students. Teacher layoffs would likely be widespread. view article arw

There's a cartoon a Houston principal showed me a while back that attempts to illustrate the difference between two often-confused words, equality and equity - two words that are now at the heart of the debate over whether to dramatically reinvent Houston public schools. view article arw

The Texas economy is growing healthily, but that doesn’t mean state budget writers will have more money at their disposal next year, state officials said Tuesday.  In fact, though unemployment is low and tax revenue is on the rise, big bills coming due for the state’s highways and health care programs are giving Texas lawmakers reason for concern.  “I would like to offer a few words of caution for reading too much into the positive recent economic numbers,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar told lawmakers at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. view article arw

Houston ISD officials are expected to present more details Thursday on the district's plans for combating a projected shortfall of more than $200 million next school year, according to a newly released agenda. The district is proposing across-the-board cuts as it stares down a second consecutive year of potentially large deficits, largely brought on by an increase in the district's "recapture" payment to the state. "Recapture" is the state's process for shifting local tax revenue from property-wealthy districts, even those with many poor students, to districts with less property value. view article arw

School districts in Dallas and Lancaster are threatening to seize bus barns and bus lots that were controversially sold by busing operator Dallas County Schools.  Trustees for both districts recently approved resolutions to begin eminent domain proceedings on four service centers — three in Dallas ISD and one in Lancaster ISD — used by the soon-to-be-dismantled agency if the new owners don’t agree to sell on the districts’ terms.  “We would like to start those proceedings in conjunction with Dallas ISD as soon as possible,” Elijah Granger, superintendent of Lancaster ISD, said last week during a special board meeting. “We’d like to make sure that we secure the transportation facilities for our students, to ensure that our students have transportation, given that the voters decided to dissolve Dallas County Schools.” view article arw

The confidence I felt as a high schooler vanished within my first few days of college. I found myself lagging behind most of my peers in topics ranging from Greek mythology to Newton’s laws of motion. I would lock myself in my dorm studying from dusk to dawn while my classmates glided through the same material. I spent those days wondering whether my acceptance to college was a mistake. What I realized was that the resources available to many of my peers had never been offered to me as a low-income student in Texas. view article arw

Trying to fund the Texas school finance system with local property tax is nuts. It is obviously inadequate and inequitable. A better way to provide solid, equitable state funding for education is to use the income tax option available under the Texas Constitution, Article VIII Section 24. Before you overreact to the use of the dreaded “i” word, learn what Section 24 says: If the Legislature adopts an income tax, it requires voter approval of the tax rate and requires a reduction in school property tax. view article arw

The Texas Constitution tasks the state with funding education, and it is the largest expenditure in the state budget, paid for with property taxes. The formula for acquiring funding for public schools has been heavily debated and a decision was reached during the 85th Special Legislative Session to study property tax revenues that support more than 5.3 million Texas kids who rely on public education. view article arw

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) --  Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza is blunt.  "We're broke," Carranza told Eyewitness News during an interview this afternoon. "There's no other way to say it. "  The district will face an estimated $205 million to $208 million shortfall next year. That is nearly 10 percent of HISD's annual $2.1 billion budget.   According to Carranza, schools next year will feel the impact brought on by the state funding system. So-called "rich" districts are required to return part of their property tax revenue to the state for distribution to "poorer" districts. The system also will require lowered property values and smaller enrollment, which is a byproduct of Hurricane Harvey.   view article arw

You wouldn’t be out of line wondering why Texas school finance didn’t get fixed in 2017. Or 2015. Or 2013. But it’s because this is a hard policy problem and a harder political one. The prompt now is that property taxes have gotten so far out of hand that lawmakers have no choice but to act.  You can’t untangle school finance in Texas unless you do one of three politically dangerous things: view article arw

A special commission has begun discussing how to remake Texas' school finance system, 18-plus months after the state Supreme Court declared it deeply flawed but still barely constitutional. That ruling spared the Legislature from having to overhaul how Texas pays for educating around 5.3 million students. Instead, many top Republicans backed unsuccessful voucher plans offering public money to children attending private schools. view article arw

Although it did not come as a shock, the precarious position of the Austin Independent School District’s financial future dampened the mood at the end of the board of trustees’ Jan. 22 meeting. The ever-increasing amount of recapture the district pays back to the state in compliance with Chapter 41 is expected to exceed the retained revenue of the district’s maintenance and operations budget in the next couple of years. view article arw

AUSTIN — The state does not need to rely on property taxes to pay for schools, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice told lawmakers on the newly-formed Texas Commission on Public School Finance Tuesday.  Justice Craig Enoch told the commission that the Texas Supreme Court gave Texas lawmakers great latitude in deciding how they should funds schools, so long as schools are served equitably. That includes exploring options outside of property taxes.  "The prudent thing would be to examine options that shift away [from property taxes]," Enoch said. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas - On Tuesday, a newly-formed school finance commission will meet for the first time to begin looking at ways to fix what's been deemed a broken system.  Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Scott Brister, the chair of the commission, called it an opportunity "to consider innovative ways to increase the quality and results of public education in Texas, and the fairness and efficiency of the system that finances it." view article arw

Houston ISD faces major changes

January 2208:39 AM

Houston ISD officials said Saturday the district will need to cut about $200 million from its 2018-19 budget to bring spending in line with an increasingly gloomy financial outlook. In an equally momentous move, Houston ISD officials also proposed far-reaching changes to how the district operates its magnet and school choice systems, some of the boldest moves to date by second-year Superintendent Richard Carranza. view article arw

A few extra pairs of eyes will be on the Marble Falls Independent School District on Jan. 23, but it’s a good thing. H-E-B announced that MFISD is a finalist for the Texas-based grocery chain’s Excellence in Education District Award. It’s one of only three districts chosen as a small district finalist. The other two are Angelton ISD and Lancaster ISD. The five districts named as large district finalists are Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, Fort Bend ISD, McAllen ISD, Tomball ISD, and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD. view article arw

El Campo school trustees will consider extending the superintendent’s contract and review the proposed school calendar at a regular meeting Tuesday evening among other items. The board will meet in closed session to consider action on Superintendent Kelly Waters’ contract, she said. view article arw

Connecticut's supreme court has struck down a lower court ruling that deemed the state's school spending formula and several associated education policies unconstitutional. That September 2016 ruling rocked the state's political system for its sweeping condemnation of the state's teacher quality standards, special education spending, and the dwindling academic performance of the state's poor, black, and Hispanic students.  view article arw

Houston ISD officials said Saturday the district will need to cut about $200 million from its 2018-19 budget to bring spending in line with an increasingly gloomy financial outlook. In an equally momentous move, Houston ISD officials also proposed far-reaching changes to how the district operates its magnet and school choice systems, some of the boldest moves to date by second-year Superintendent Richard Carranza. view article arw

A total of 4,369 students were absent Dec. 8, the day it snowed, which equals about $164,000 in state funds the district could lose. The district opted to delay the start of school by two hours that day, said Tammy Knobles, the district's student services director. The overall district attendance rate was about 68 percent that day, which is well below the district's 2016-2017 attendance rate of 95 percent. view article arw

Identifying students who were kept out of special education and getting them enrolled in the programs they need should be state education leaders’ top priority as they work to remedy federal education law violations. Every month of delay places students further behind. Regrettably, many of the children who were deprived of access to special education in Texas public schools over the past decade are no longer in the public education system and will never get the education they deserved. view article arw

Schools must make up weather days

January 1808:25 AM

East Texas school districts that canceled classes this week might have another decision: how to makeup missed instruction time. Districts throughout the area shut down for multiple days, meaning they lost time that would have counted toward the required 75,600 minutes needed each year. "Right now we're taking a real, real hard look," Gladewater ISD Superintendent Sedric Clark said. view article arw

After a federal report blasted Texas for failing kids with disabilities, educators and public education advocates are pointing the finger directly at state legislators who, they argue, first suggested capping special education to keep costs low.  “We weren’t derelict: The state of Texas was derelict, the Texas Education Agency was derelict,” said HD Chambers, superintendent of Alief ISD and president of the Texas School Alliance, an advocacy group. “We were following what they put in place.” view article arw