STAT 86th Legislative Session Recap

When the 86th Texas Legislature convened in January, Gov. Greg Abbott declared that the state must invest more in public education, and newly elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen stocked the House members’ lounge with Styrofoam cups that read “School Finance Reform, The Time Is Now.” Now, sine die (the last day of the legislative session) has passed, and legislators have returned home to their constituents having achieved their goal of passing major school finance legislation (HB 3).

Here’s a look at the major education legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. HB 3 does not contain any specific provisions pertaining to science education, but of course any legislation affecting public education in such a fundamental away will have an impact on Texas science educators.

This wrap-up also includes other education bills of note. The governor has until June 16 to veto bills. Bills that he either signs or does not veto become effective Aug. 26, 2019, unless a bill’s language contains a specific effective date.

Please mark your calendars and register for CAST 2019, Nov. 21–23 at the Hilton Anatole Dallas, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear the latest on STAT advocacy efforts with the Legislature and the State Board of Education.

HB 1 – General Appropriations Bill

  • $250B – Total all state funds budget (a 16% increase over the last biennium)

HB 3 – Major School Finance Highlights 

  • Overall cost: $11.6 B
    • $6.5B for public schools
    • $5.1B for property tax relief
  • Reduces recapture by $3.6B over the biennium
  • Basic allotment increased from $5,040 to $6,160
  • Increases salaries by requiring 30% of revenue gain for compensation increases for full-time employees (other than administrators). Of this amount:
    • 75% must be used for full-time teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians with priority for those with 5 years or more experience.
    • 25% may be used for other full-time employees at the district’s discretion.
  • Minimum salary schedule is increased due to basic allotment increase
  • Requires charters to pay TRS contributions for salaries above statutory minimum
  • Creates a college preparation assessment reimbursement for fees paid to administer assessment instruments such as the ACT and SAT
  • Creates reading standards for grades K–3; ISDs must use a phonics curriculum incorporating systematic direct instruction; requires each teacher and principal at a K–3 campus to attend a teacher literacy achievement academy by the 2021-22 school year
  • Provides incentive for additional instructional days for districts wishing to extend up to 30 days of half-day instruction for students in PK–5 based on ADA funding
  • All school districts must provide full-day Pre-K for eligible 4-year-old students; ISDs may receive a waiver from this provision if not enough space is available.
  • Dyslexia Allotment - 0.1; special ed students with dyslexia would be eligible for both
  • Early Education Allotment - 0.1 for each educationally disadvantaged or ELL student in grades K–3
  • P-Tech and New Tech programs – $50 per student
  • CCMR – for students graduating “ready,” district receives:
    • $5,000 for students who are disadvantaged
    • $3,000 for students who are not disadvantaged
    • $2,000 for students in special education
  • Dropout Recovery/Residential Placement Facility Allotment – $275 per student
  • Compensatory Education Allotment
    • New weights based on 5-Tier index from census blocks ranging from 0.225 through 0.275
  • Bilingual/Dual Language Allotment
    • 10 for Bilingual Ed students remained the same
    • 15 for ELL students in dual language programs
    • 05 weight for non-ELL students in dual language programs
  • Special Education Allotment
    • Increases the mainstream weight from 1.1 to 1.15
  • CTE Weight
    • Extended to grades 7 and 8
    • Extended to Tech Apps courses
  • (Optional) Teacher Incentive Allotment – For teachers distinguished as:
    • Recognized: $3,000–$9,000
    • Exemplary: $6,000–$18,000
    • Master: $12,000-$32,000, with increased funding for teachers at rural districts/high-need campuses
  • Mentor Program Allotment
    • For ISDs with mentoring programs for teachers with less than two years of experience; amount TBD

Other Education Legislation Passed

SB 11 – Requires the commissioner to provide an annual school safety allotment (amount TBD)

SB 12 – Increases the rate of TRS contributions beginning in 2022 from:

  • 7% to 8.25% for each member;
  • 5% to 2% for ISDs; and
  • 8% to 8.25% for the State’s share beginning between 2020 and 2024.

SB 12 also provides retired teachers a one-time 13th check of $2,000.

SB 213 – Extends the Individual Graduation Committees (IGCs) to September 1, 2023.

SB 1374 – Allows students to take Algebra I and Geometry at the same time.

SB 1451 – Authorizes teachers to document conduct by a student that violates the student code of conduct and to submit that documentation to the principal.

SB 1476 – Removes Scarlett letter for departing employees because superintendent was required to report to SBEC whether the employee was ever investigated (even if allegations proved false).

HB 1525 – Requires Amazon-/eBay-type companies to remit sales taxes, generating about $300 million/year for the state.

HB 3906 – Eliminates the STAAR stand-alone Grade 4 & 7 writing tests.

HB 4611 – Increases funding from the Available School Fund.

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