This may seem difficult to believe but public school funding has, in some places, never recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Now, districts and states around the country are facing the prospect of a new financial crisis for public education as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.  Insufficient education funding and low teacher pay sparked the 2018 Red for Ed movement, in which teachers, first in Republican-led states, went out on strike to demand more resources for their schools and higher salaries. Some states settled the strikes with promises to pay teachers more money, but now, some of those raises are in jeopardy.  With the economy reeling from the closure of most public life in America due to the coronavirus pandemic, Congress just passed a $2 trillion assistance package that includes about $13.5 billion for public schools.  (03) view article arw

Gene V. Glass is one of the nation’s most eminent researchers and statisticians of education. He is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. He writes: Education Policy Analysis Archives is an open access (free to read) peer-reviewed journal now in its 28th year of continuous publication. EPAA just published an article by David S. Knight (Univ. Washington) and Laurence A. Toenjes (Univ Houston) entitled “Do Charter Schools Receive Their Fair Share of Funding? School Finance Equity for Charter and Traditional Public Schools.” view article arw

Using the ‘r’ word, Hegar sees no avoiding a recession and predicts the state’s recovery will be slow.  AUSTIN — Texas’ usually buoyant economy has just run over two sharp nails — coronavirus and low oil prices — and the resulting slowdown is dramatic, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Wednesday.  “There’s no doubt that Texas is going to be in a recession — just like pretty much the rest of the world,” he said. While data showing the scope of the state’s economic contraction won’t be out for another few weeks, Hegar said early signs from counties that collect sales tax on motor vehicle purchases and rentals showed significant declines for a limited part of last month — all that’s been reported so far. view article arw

Local governments facing a fresh budget threat: economic recession  [5 a.m.] While city leaders in Texas are trying to slow down the novel coronavirus pandemic, their financial officers are already warning about the damage a new economic recession will have on local budgets. “We work on the budget year round, and we anticipate even the worst scenarios," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference Tuesday. "This one is even worse than anyone had imagined.” view article arw

HOUSTON — Two Texas oil companies with large footprints in the West Texas oil patch sent a letter Monday to state regulators formally requesting an emergency meeting to consider reducing oil production as demand for oil around the world has collapsed during the new coronavirus pandemic.  The presidents of Pioneer Natural Resources, based in Irving, and Parsley Energy, based in Austin, urged the Texas Railroad Commission — the state’s oil and gas regulatory body — to hold a virtual meeting no later than April 13 “for the purposes of determining the reasonable market demand for oil, whether wasteful production either is occurring or is reasonably imminent, and, if so, the necessary and appropriate proration order to prevent such waste,” the letter read. view article arw

We have a full lineup of news, features and commentary for you this morning, including a dire warning about looming economic challenges for schools already rocked by coronavirus closures, a Q&A with a mom experienced in homeschooling an autistic child and a proposal for reviving the study of current events as the perfect online curriculum at this moment in history.   view article arw

Katy ISD administration presented a staffing report regarding the 2020-21 school year to the board of trustees at its special March 23 meeting.   Brian Schuss, KISD's chief human resources officer, said the district may need up to 499 new campus staff and 106 new campus support staff. These 605 positions are equivalent to 40 growth units, per his presentation. view article arw

Comptroller Glenn Hegar briefed Texas House members on the state's economy and budget Sunday night, saying that while it was too soon for specific forecasts, both are expected to take potentially massive hits in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple people who were on the conference call. The members-only call, led by House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, was one of state lawmakers' first glimpses of the impact the virus is expected to have on multiple industries, state finances and Texas' largely oil-fed savings account, known as the Economic Stabilization Fund or the rainy day fund. view article arw

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing Bexar County to extend school closures, Southwest Independent School District plans to continue paying its employees. The school board met Tuesday to pass a resolution that gives the superintendent the power to continue to compensate both hourly and salary employees, including teachers, bus drivers, maintenance workers and others. view article arw

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD officials are preparing for next year’s budget, but without available data from last year’s budget, officials are struggling to make accurate predictions for this year. Tonya Tillman, associate superintendent for business services, said the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) reports have not been updated to include data necessary for House Bill 3 implementation. She said these reports do not reflect many of the new categories that the district will be receiving weighted funding for under HB 3. view article arw

Stifel Economic Update

March 1608:35 AM
 

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve shocked the markets with an emergency rate cut bringing the Federal funds rate down 50bps to a new, lower range of 1.00% to 1.25%. With the market increasing pressure on the Fed to take action, the Committee determined the time to act was now as opposed to waiting even a mere two weeks until the March FOMC meeting on the 18th. While hardly the silver bullet to protect the domestic economy from any downside risks of contagion from disruptions overseas, the Fed hoped to affirm accommodative financial conditions and, at the very least, boost confidence. view article arw

Plano ISD will continue to pay all regular employees during the upcoming school closures that are intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The board of trustees deliberated for more than two hours Sunday in closed session before approving the employee pay proposal. The resolution passed unanimously with little discussion in the portion of the meeting that was open to the public. view article arw

Earlier this week the Federal Reserve shocked the markets with an emergency rate cut bringing the Federal funds rate down 50bps to a new, lower range of 1.00% to 1.25%. With the market increasing pressure on the Fed to take action, the Committee determined the time to act was now as opposed to waiting even a mere two weeks until the March FOMC meeting on the 18th . While hardly the silver bullet to protect the domestic economy from any downside risks of contagion from disruptions overseas, the Fed hoped to affirm accommodative financial conditions and, at the very least, boost confidence.  view article arw

A half-million dollar fine levied against Katy ISD last year, highlights what some are calling outrageous severance deals for school superintendents across the Lone Star State.  The Texas Education Agency reportedly reduced Katy ISD's state funding after its board approved a $750,000 parachute over two years for former superintendent Lance Hindt. Up in Richardson, a former superintendent is paid tens of thousands just to remain on the payroll.  “For them to say that teachers are the most important thing in the classroom, other than the students of course. Yet, to compensate administrators at that rate, it really doesn't seem to make much sense,” says Melissa Martin with conservative-based Innovative Teachers of Texas. view article arw

Clear Creek ISD’s board of trustees approved $2 million in state funding to provide resources for students in a variety of English Language Arts and English as a Second Language classrooms at the Feb. 24 regular meeting.  Several subject area subcommittees completed the process of reviewing and selecting instructional resources. The subcommittees were made up of teachers—including representatives from English as a Second Language, special education, and technology—and a parent or community representative per committee. Resources were selected for English Language Arts and Reading, grades 9 to 12; English Language Arts Electives; English Learners Language Arts, seventh and eighth grades; and English I and II for Speakers of Other Languages. view article arw

The Katy ISD 2018-19 budget received an unmodified opinion—the highest opinion level that can be given—from accounting firm Whitley Penn LLP.  Audit partner Celina Cereceres presented the audit findings to the board of trustees at the Jan. 20 regular meeting.  According to the presentation, KISD had a total net position of $55.5 million as of Aug. 31. view article arw

The La Joya ISD Board of Trustees voted at a meeting Wednesday to adopt an agreement for an appraised value limitation application submitted by a company proposing to build a $210 million wind farm in the district. Under Chapter 313 of the Texas tax code, companies can request a 10-year tax abatement within reinvestment zones. The abatement is intended to attract industry to the state and create jobs. view article arw

More Longview ISD employees are going to be eligible for incentive payments after the board voted Wednesday to loosen guidelines. The board of trustees gathered for a regular meeting Wednesday, while a meeting of the East Texas Advanced Academies board of trustees, scheduled for the same time at a different location, was canceled soon before the set time. view article arw

Kilgore ISD trustees were told Monday night that a recent settlement offer from plaintiffs in a longstanding lawsuit against the district was rejected and that the district will consult tonight with its attorney on the next step it should take. Axberg vs. Kilgore ISD, filed in September 2016 on behalf of Gregg County plaintiffs Darlene Axberg, John Axberg and Sheila Anderson, alleges the district improperly collected taxes after repealing its long-standing local option homestead exemption in 2015. The plaintiffs say the district’s repeal was a violation of what was at the time a newly passed school reform law. view article arw

LEANDER, TX — In an effort to listen and learn more about the communities served within the Leander ISD, the district will launch its Community Conversations on Equity and Diversity with two community forums scheduled for the month of March.  On Tuesday, March 3 and Monday, March 9 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., the Leander ISD community is invited to the meetings led by two college professors with extensive experience fostering equity in public schools, and open the conversation to ways of improving engagement within the community. LISD has a commitment toward learning about ways of implementing equitable practices, and invites student, parent and community voices to be heard as part of these forums. view article arw

Facing a $2.3 million budget deficit for the 2019-20 school year, Eanes ISD passed a resolution during a Feb. 25 board meeting for the option to seek a voter-approved tax rate election.  Administrators have often stated that House Bill 3, which passed in June, provided the EISD with significantly less financial assistance than its neighboring districts. For example, for every dollar EISD received, Lake Travis ISD received six, according to district information.   (02/27) view article arw

Teacher pay will have its moment in the spotlight during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Denton school board. Officials are scheduled to present Denton ISD’s rubric for teacher pay raises as well as how much the state might compensate the district for such raises. Additionally, board members will look over a proposal to increase pay for substitute teachers by more than 20%. view article arw

The Austin school board on Monday night will get its first glimpse of the district’s $1.52 billion preliminary budget for the 2020-21 school year. Facing declining student enrollment, increased recapture payments and a declining fund balance, the district is expected to make some tough decisions next school year. view article arw

In the past two years, Texas school districts have lost millions of dollars from online scammers. Now, they're putting new security measures in place to make sure taxpayer money is secure.  The Texas Association of School Business Officials recently advised Central Texas districts to take down check registers from their websites. The registers show the name, date and amount paid to vendors for products or services. According to Tracy Ginsburg, Executive Director of TASBO, scammers use the information to impersonate vendors and rob districts of money. "It gives a line of attack to nefarious individuals who are out to steal from school districts," says Ginsburg. view article arw

With mounting criticism around the departure of its chief internal auditor, Dallas ISD will look to a familiar face to help steady its internal audit department.  Former interim Superintendent Alan King was chosen by the district’s board of trustees to serve as the interim chief internal auditor on Tuesday.  Dallas ISD’s board voted 7-0 — with trustees Karla Garcia and Maxie Johnson absent — to approve King in the role, following an hourlong, largely closed-door meeting. Trustees also unanimously accepted the resignation of auditor Steven Martin, effective at the end of the month.  “At this point in time, to our internal audit [department] and with our internal audits that we’ve been discussing, there’s not a better choice in the city to lead this work,” said trustee Miguel Solis, who put forward King’s name for approval.   (02/20) view article arw

Marshall ISD trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved a teacher pay increase for the 2020-21 school year, as well as a new teacher pay incentive. Trustees unanimously voted 6-0 with trustee Helen Warwick absent to approve a 4 percent teacher pay raise on Tuesday, effective for the 2020-21 school year. view article arw

DALLAS — The Dallas Independent School District’s chief auditor who resigned after finding potential contractor overpayments – but had his credibility questioned – has called for two state agencies to review his findings for accuracy and possible criminal violations, according to a letter and email obtained by WFAA.  Steven Martin called for the Texas State Auditor to review two recently completed audits that showed the Dallas school district potentially overpaid more than $330,000 for $1.2 million in two construction contracts, in a letter obtained by WFAA. view article arw

After Texas lawmakers passed an $11.6 billion school finance package last session, public education advocates declared victory, but some local superintendents worried the changes wouldn’t be sustainable.  Candidates for House seats representing two local districts – 119 and 121 – answered questions from audience members this week about how they would continue the conversation if they are elected. Republican and Democratic hopefuls gathered for public education focused forums hosted by education advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. view article arw

Most voters in Bexar County support using local sales taxes to fund aquifer protection, a prekindergarten program, and more-frequent VIA Metropolitan Transit service, but only 7 percent would prioritize funding mass transit over the other two programs, according to results of the first Bexar Facts/KSAT/Rivard Report Poll released Tuesday.  view article arw

Free prekindergarten program needs sales tax renewed to continue operations - The San Antonio City Council is poised to vote whether to put a 1/8 cent sales tax to fund Pre-K 4 SA on the May ballot at a time when a new poll shows strong support for the issue.  Pre-K 4 SA runs four centers around San Antonio that offer free and reduced-priced prekindergarten education, professional development for educators and providing grants that support students in other programs. view article arw

Westwood Independent School District is organizing a long-range steering committee, drawn from the entire district, to plan how to meet schools' instructional and building needs for years to come.  Ultimately, the committee's work on an instructional and facilities master plan will likely inform and shape the district's next bond and building plan. On Wednesday, however, WISD Superintendent Wade Stanford stressed this committee will not talk about a bond. It first will tackle the district's future instructional needs, and then determine whether its current buildings and facilities can meet those needs, or whether they will affect them at all. view article arw

New Release 14 Template

February 1406:56 AM
 

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 14 dated 2/12/2020) that is now available for download.  This new release loads the Comptroller’s latest, revised 2019 Preliminary property values (see Notes tab).  There will probably be more to come, so as always, please stay tuned for any new developments. read more arw

The chief internal auditor for the Dallas Independent School District went before school board trustees Tuesday to complain about their plan for a "peer review" of the audit program that’s uncovered alleged fraud and waste. A former Dallas ISD employee who claimed to have been fired for being a whistleblower about the problems was there to support the auditor.  The controversy over spending comes as the district plans to ask voters to approve a record large school improvement bond referendum this year, perhaps $3.7 billion.  (02/13) view article arw

DALLAS, Texas — Dallas ISD’s chief auditor is under a performance review within a year of his hiring — and soon after he questioned the district’s performance in millions of dollars of potential construction contract overpayments.  Two audits by Dallas ISD internal chief auditor Steven Martin recently raised concerns that the school district potentially overpaid more than $330,000 for $1.2 million in construction contracts. His office is reviewing another 12 contracts, with $1.7 million in potential overpayments, sources said. view article arw

A landmark Texas school finance bill created a teacher pay allotment that could provide Dallas with $28 million in additional funding for teachers.  Millions more in state funding will be headed to Dallas ISD next school year, money that the district will funnel to its most effective teachers at its high-need schools.  The district is in the final steps of qualifying for money made available by the state’s landmark school finance bill, House Bill 3. The new source of funding, called the Teacher Incentive Allotment, was created in the last legislative session, encouraging school districts to provide differentiated pay for high-performing teachers in high-poverty and rural areas of Texas.  As one of the few school districts poised to receive funding next year because of its existing teacher merit pay and evaluation system, DISD expects around $28 million from the allotment for 2020-21, said the district’s chief of school leadership, Stephanie Elizalde. view article arw