Valuable legislative updates from presenters who are working for the children of Texas. One-on-one sessions with the state’s keenest school finance and legal minds. Perfect conference for Superintendents, Business Officials, and Board Members.Excellent networking opportunity view article arw

The Terrell Independent School District received a status of “P” for “Passed” with a “Superior” rating under Texas’ School 2018 FIRST financial accountability rating system.The announcement was made during Terrell ISD’s school board meeting on Monday evening. The rating is the state’s highest and its based on the 2017 staff data. This is the 16th straight year that Terrell ISD has received a “Superior” rating. view article arw

A simmering school-finance battle came back to life Wednesday in separate hearings that brought up Texas' educational endowment, the largest in the country.  While lawmakers in the Capitol recommended making significant changes to the fund, members of the State Board of Education lamented in their own meeting that the School Land Board has so far stood by a funding decision they announced in August that immediately spurred controversy.   "They need to reconsider now," state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said Wednesday night. view article arw

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance’s Revenues Working Group met Tuesday to hear the current state of public education funding in Texas and review recommendations from the Commission’s Expenditures Working Group–a group of commission members tasked with recommendations for changes on how public education money is spent. On the funding front, Education Commissioner Mike Morath outlined that education spending in total was $60 billion for the 2016-17 school year (including federal funds), that state and local spending has increased about $1 billion a year. While this sounds like a significant increase, remember that per-pupil funding–adjusted for inflation–has actually decreased since 2008. Commissioners also heard from Morath that TEA’s budget request for the next biennium is actually $3.5 billion less than the previous budget, because of rising local property values. view article arw

The more than 1,200 school districts and charters in Texas found out their financial accountability ratings Thursday when the Texas Education Agency released its report. More than 960 charter and district schools earned the highest rating possible for this year. That includes Austin ISD, which received an "A." Districts including Burnet, Fredericksburg, Georgetown and Hays all received “A” ratings, while Bastrop received a “C.”  view article arw

Between bond funds and construction funds, the Jacksonville school district has a healthy amount in its coffers to address future needs, according to Lindy Finley, the JISD associate superintendent of finance. “We are a district that is very conservative with our spending” she said, describing JISD's $3.8 million construction fund. “We don't say to principals and directors, 'spend it or you won't get it again.' They ask and spend only the money they need. And sometimes they're very frugal with that, to the point where they run out of time for spending money (before) they run out of money.” view article arw

Advocates are pushing lawmakers to change how Texas funds special education resources, and a recent court ruling may help their cause. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sharply criticized the way Texas calculates how much to spend on special education, saying in an opinion that there is potential for “future abuse,” and the state’s method for allocating funds creates a “perverse incentive” to minimize a student’s needs. view article arw

Humble ISD’s Board of Trustees received an update about their financial health during their monthly meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday. Lupe Garcia, audit partner at Whitley Penn, was in attendance to present the independent auditor’s report on Humble ISD for the year that ended June 30. view article arw

Amid a $30 million budget deficit next year, the AISD Budget Stabilization Task Force is in the process of sending recommendations to the school board and superintendent. On Wednesday, the task force had their final meeting, to come up with the recommendations they want to put in the draft of their report they will be sending to the school board. "It's a $30 million budget deficit and it's growing," said Robert Thomas, who's the tri-chair of the task force. "The superintendent instructed us to be courageous, instructed us to look at all options large and small." view article arw

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After Amazon announced it won’t build its new headquarters in Dallas, there are renewed calls for Texas to spend more money on education with the goal of creating a larger, home-grown high-tech workforce.  Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, whose job it is to tell state lawmakers how much money they can spend during the upcoming legislative session, said Wednesday he’s optimistic the good news will continue. “The reality is the next budget cycle seems as though it’ll be healthier than it has been in the past.” view article arw

School consolidations, attendance zone boundary adjustments, and a sunset review process for contracts and programs are among the strategies that could contain Austin ISD's budget deficit. Leaders with the Budget Stabilization Task Forcepresented a status update to AISD trustees on Monday night for the first time since the group was convened in June to find solutions to the district's $29-million-and-growing problem. Task force tri-chair Robert Thomas noted his committee was charged to make "courageous" recommendations on how the district could save money, adding that "all of the easy decisions have been made" by past district leaders. That means the recommendations to be submitted by the task force could be politically fraught, but Thomas said the group agreed early on that its job was not to be popular, but to be honest: "We decided that tail is not going to wag this dog." view article arw

Crosby ISD trustees breathed a sigh of relief when they saw their 2018-19 budget trimmed by more than $5 million at a school board meeting Monday night. The budget cuts, which were accomplished in part through more than 100 layoffs this semester, was deemed necessary amid a financial crisis that threatened the district’s solvency. The layoffs allowed the district to trim its payroll costs from an estimated $46.3 million or 89 percent of the general fund to $42.9 million or 83 percent. view article arw

Tired of waiting for a state fix, this month voters approved the Dallas, Richardson and Frisco districts' pleas to funnel millions more a year for schools locally.  But now school leaders are worried about what's next. They're out of financial maneuvers after successful elections put them at the maximum property tax rate for operations.  The increase will only sustain them for so long as costs continue to rise and the state's share shrinks. So they're counting on lawmakers to do something about it.  And the shift in the Legislature after last week's elections could significantly impact the direction of school finance as Democrats flipped key seats once held by Republicans.  Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa noted that many candidates were discussing public school needs during the election season. He hopes that means lawmakers will be responsive. view article arw

The Greenville Independent School District Board of Trustees on Friday approved budget amendments to include a 3 percent midpoint salary increase for all teachers and staff.  view article arw

Texas' decision to spend $33.3 million less on students with disabilities in 2012 will likely cost it millions in future federal funding after a Wednesday afternoon 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.  According to the New Orleans-based court, the U.S. Department of Education was within its rights to try to withhold the same amount from Texas' special education grants, since a 1997 federal statute prohibits states from reducing their funding for kids with disabilities from year to year. Texas had appealed the department's decision, arguing that statute was vague and unenforceable. view article arw

Voters in the Frisco Independent School District approved two measures on Election Day that will provide a major influx of cash for what has been consistently the fastest-growing school district in Texas over the past several years. Voters approved a $691 million construction bond, as well as a Tax Ratification Election (TRE). The bond money will fund major expenses, including four new schools, renovation to existing facilities, additional technology and security measures – including the installation of bullet-resistant glass on interior classroom windows – and it would also pay to resurface playgrounds at 42 schools with a rubber-like material. view article arw

Sweeny ISD taxpayers late Tuesday night approved a two-cent tax increase in the form of a “penny swap” district leaders say will allow more local tax dollars to stay in Sweeny. The penny swap received 64.20 percent approval, according to final but unofficial results released Tuesday night by the Brazoria County Elections Division. view article arw

Texas requires wealthier school districts to share that wealth with less wealthy ones. Aransas County I-S-D is considered one of those wealthier districts. But, they’re asking the state to give them a break while they try to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey. In Texas, school districts can be under Chapter 41 or Chapter 42 schools. Under Chapter 41, 215 school districts have to pay tax revenues based on the property wealth value of the district. Those taxes are sent to the state then dispersed amongst the less wealthy districts, statewide. It’s known as the Robin Hood law. It’s meant to level the playing field for all Texas Students, regardless of tax bracket. view article arw

Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled to educators and business leaders a plan to begin reforming the school finance system. The proposal, dated Oct. 29, was shown before a school finance commission he helped to create and has finished its work and released its recommendations to lawmakers. view article arw

Texas is a prosperous state, but lawmakers are failing to adequately finance public education and communities and students are suffering the academic, physical, and economic consequences. The upcoming legislative session provides a unique opportunity for our state’s elected leaders to right the past wrongs, but a preliminary budget request from the Texas Education Agency projects a $3.5 billion decline in state funding over the next few years. More of us need to understand the flaws in our state’s school finance system. We also must hold our elected leaders more accountable for making substantial improvements in the next legislative session. Inadequate and inequitable state funding does harm to schools.  view article arw

On Friday I received a frantic text from my 15-year-old daughter fearful of possible cuts to her Fine Arts Academy program at McCallum High School. Her concern was echoed throughout the day by other parents and among her fellow students via social media. The perceived villain quickly became the Austin Independent School District, which is struggling to determine how to cut its budget by about $30 million. An upcoming meeting of the district’s Budget Stabilization Task Force became the focus of the community’s efforts. view article arw

For more than a decade, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has given Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD a superior financial rating based on the agency’s financial integrity rating system. During Thursday night’s school board meeting, district staff updated the board on this year’s results. Known as School FIRST, the state's school financial accountability rating system ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve those practices, according to the TEA. Since 2003, C-FB ISD has passed the rating system’s criteria and has received a superior grade. The 2017-18 school year rating system used 15 indicators which demonstrate how well a school district is handling their finances. view article arw

I was 18 years old when I started working with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was so committed to us getting our education that he would tell us, "If you get picked up in a protest and are going to jail, take your books with you." He knew that we needed to continue our education. He knew how important that was to our future and to our fight for civil rights. view article arw

This is just too much brain power to use — unraveling the complexities of school finance — while working to get public education supporters to the polls. So I will put extensive commentary on hold until after the election. Public ed reporter Aliyya Swaby at the Texas Tribune had this story yesterday: “Behind closed doors, Greg Abbott’s office has pitched a plan to fix Texas school finance.”  For years, school finance reform has been a messy political challenge that Gov. Greg Abbott has been reluctant to wade into. view article arw

Republican Brad Buckley is the man of the moment, but Democrat Kathy Richerson is hoping to steal the spotlight in the race for Texas House District 54. The candidates are hoping to replace departing state Rep. Scott Cosper — who Buckley handily defeated in the GOP primary in the spring. Buckley, a Salado veterinarian, is coming off a week in which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott threw his support behind the former Killeen school board member. view article arw

Crosby Independent School District notified parents in October that they will be cutting the pre-K classes to a half day beginning January 2019. Currently, the district offers a full-day pre-K option.  A letter was sent out on Oct. 29 from Sherry Long, Crosby ISD’s executive director of elementary education, stated that the decision was necessary due to the district’s financial crisis and limited state funding.  The new pre-K program will offer two half-day options. The morning session will run from 8:20 a.m.- 11:20 a.m. and the afternoon session will start from 12:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.  Crosby ISD has 236 pre-K students this year. view article arw

The pitch includes capping increases in districts' property tax revenue and financial incentives to improve school performance.  For years, school finance reform has been a messy political challenge that Gov. Greg Abbott has been reluctant to wade into.  But an 86-page slide show titled “Improving Student Outcomes and Maintaining Affordability through Comprehensive Education and Tax Reforms” and obtained by The Texas Tribune indicates that may change this year, and his office has generated specific ideas for how to simultaneously improve outcomes for students and cut back Texans' skyrocketing property tax bills. view article arw

If Texas Democrats make gains this election, they most likely will come in down-ballot races, where a dozen GOP-held state House seats are seen as vulnerable. Those districts are concentrated in the booming suburbs of Austin and Dallas, where population growth and demographic changes have altered the electoral landscape. Austin’s suburbs are home to thousands of new arrivals, both from outside the area and from Austin, in search of more affordable housing and, in some cases, better schools. Many of the new suburbanites vote more like Austinites than longtime residents of places like Buda and Cedar Park, according to Texas political scientists. The shift was evident two years ago, when Hillary Clinton edged President Donald Trump in 10 Texas House districts won by Republicans, including one suburban Austin district. Seven were in the Dallas area, and two in Houston. view article arw

Tony Harkleroad was apprehensive when he staked the sign that read "Vote No" in big, block letters in his front yard. Harkleroad isn't a typical voter. He's Richardson ISD's retired chief financial officer of 16 years, and the fact that he's speaking out against his former employer is drawing attention. view article arw

Sarah Farms supports El Paso schools

November 0208:15 AM

Sarah Farms has launched the Moo-la program to boost funding for the El Paso region’s schools. For every label cut off its gallon or half-gallon containers and submitted to a school, Sarah Farms will donate a dime. view article arw

Eight candidates are vying for three positions on the New Caney ISD board of trustees in the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent Alan Moreau and candidates Andrew Riddick and Wendy Allen Sharp are running for board of trustees Position 3. Incumbent Chris Wootton and Candidate Ricky Warwick are running for board of trustees Position 4. Incumbent Chad Turner and candidates Andrew Clarence and Yavonne Martinez are running for board of trustees Position 5. view article arw

How well a student performs on a standardized test may have a direct correlation with race, ethnicity and geography, at least according to a new 2018 report by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis. According to the report, evidence suggests there are achievement gaps between Hispanic and Black students compared to their White counterparts. Some of the findings correlated those achievement gaps to socioeconomic status. view article arw

Crosby ISD cuts Pre-K hours

October 3108:40 AM

Starting in January 2019, Crosby ISD’s Pre-Kindergarten program will switch from all-day to half-day.  The school district posted a message on its Facebook page on Monday, Oct. 29 informing people of the change starting in the spring semester.  The post states that the move is due to the Crosby ISD’s current financial struggles.  “Currently, the State of Texas only funds half-day PreK and the remaining half-day has been subsidized by the District. This has become difficult for the District to sustain financially,” the statement reads. view article arw

South San Antonio Independent School District has cut its projected deficit by about $1.8 million, as a long-running decline in enrollment slowed this year. The district, which has struggled with reduced per-pupil funding from the state because of shrinking numbers for the past five years, adopted its budget in August with an estimated $2.7 million gap between expenses and revenue. view article arw

The League of Women Voters of Collin County and the Plano ISD Council of PTAs invite the public to a free informational forum about the school recapture program, otherwise known as Robin Hood, and its impact on Collin County school districts. The forum will take place on Nov. 15 at Haggard Library, 2501 Coit Road. Networking will begin at 6:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Panelists include Texas Senator Royce West (a member of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance), Plano ISD Board of Trustees President Missy Bender, and Frisco ISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith.  view article arw