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On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the House Public Education Committee met to hear testimony on the following bills:

  • HB 2164 (Guerra) relates to the monitoring of public school bilingual education and special language programs by TEA. Chairman Guerra explained that the bill would direct TEA to develop a deeper and more robust monitoring system for bilingual education programs to allow the agency to identify inadequate programs and provide support where needed. He introduced a committee substitute. Guerra explained that the substitute combines his originally filed HB 2164 with another of his bills, HB 2372, which requires TEA to develop and make available training materials and other resources on bilingual education to educators and administrators. He said that the fiscal note for the bill is less than $1 million for the biennium, which includes 3 FTEs for TEA and technology costs. A representative of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
  • HB 2168 (Guerra) relates to measures to prepare students to teach bilingual education, English as a second language, or Spanish. Guerra said that the bill was passed by the House during the last legislative session but did not get through the Senate. He said he filed the bill in because Texas has a shortage of bilingual education teachers, while one in five students are emerging bilingual students. Guerra said the bill encourages high school students to become bilingual ed teachers by creating a CTE program and also financial incentives to help students earn degrees in bilingual education. He stated that the fiscal note on the bill is less than $1 million for the biennium. The same IDRA representative testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
  • HB 2546 (Metcalf) would require school districts to begin instruction for students for a school year on or after the third Wednesday in August if the district is designated as a district of innovation (DOI) under Chapter 12A. Chairman Metcalf said it causes confusion and negatively impacts businesses for DOIs to select start dates earlier than this date. Several representatives of the tourism and camping industry testified for the bill. Several school adminstrators testified against the bill, including TASA Executive Committee Member and Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Sharon McKinney, who testified on behalf of TASA and her district. McKinney explained that the flexibility her district enjoys related to start date as a DOI helps students enrolling in college courses, allows for more professional development for staff, including those enrolled in summer graduate programs, and that the calendar works best for her local community, which relies heavily on tourism. McKinney explained that her district’s DOI committee includes parents, community members, and business owners, who work together to draft the school calendar, then other citizens have the opportunity to provide input. She expressed concerns that the bill does not include language that would allow districts that have already adopted calendars to be grandfathered in. McKinney also noted that with so many school activities, such as band, football, drill team, etc., starting August 1, it is better for students and staff in her district to begin school earlier, and that allows them to finish the school year earlier — before the Memorial Day holiday when crowds flood in to Port Aransas. Breckenridge ISD Superintendent Bryan Allen also testified against the bill. “Local control is what we are looking for here,” he said, explaining that his district is starting school August 8 this year to incorporate additional time for staff to be with their families throughout the year to benefit mental health and recruitment/retention. Aldine ISD Chief Transformation Officer Adrian Bustillos testified that the flexibility under current statute has led to marked growth via increased instructional time. Del Valle ISD Director of Academics and Accountability Anna Rush testified against bill, explaining that her district’s early start date (August 9) is in response to her community, in which parents support an earlier start date so they can work while their students are in school, and that the school calendar is developed with ample input. The bill was left pending.
  • HB 114 (Thompson) relates to the possession of e-cigarettes on public school property or at certain school events. Rep. Thompson said that he filed the bill, which would remove mandatory expulsion for vaping offenses and give school administrators the option to determine the best course of action, because school discipline programs are being overrun with vaping offenders, who take up seats that could be occupied by students who’ve commited more serious or violent offenses. He explained that, under the bill, students not expelled would be required to take a drug/alcohol course. Mandatory expulsion would still apply to students who distribute e-cigarettes. Thompson laid out a committee substitute, explaining that it clarifies that possession of five or more e-cigarettes would be a misdemeanor only if there was intent to distribute. Alvin ISD Deputy Superintendent Rory Gesch, whose job includes safety/security and discipline, testified for the bill on behalf of himself. He provided data showing the rapidly increasing problem of student vaping, both nicotine and THC. With 18 cases per week and sometimes 80 cases per month per campus, his district’s DAEP has a waitlist, and that waitlist is 95% vaping offenders. Gesch said that right now “vaping is in the same category as assault, and we can’t do that.” The bill was left pending.
  • HB 2411 (Talarico) would permit the administration of opioid antagonists in public schools, charter schools, private schools, and institutions of higher education. School districts (public, charter, and private) would be permitted to adopt and implement a policy regarding maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists at each campus in the district or school. Read a full summary by searching for HB 2411 in TASA’s Bill Tracker. Rep. Talarico laid out a substitute bill. He explained his bill would help respond to the fentanyl crisis by requiring schools serving grades 6-12 to have a Narcan policy. Testimony was supportive of the bill, including from a private school association representative. The bill was left pending.
  • HB 2891 (Talarico) would permit a school district, open-enrollment charter school, or private school to adopt and implement a policy regarding the maintenance, administration, and disposal of Glucagon medication at each campus in the district or school. Talarico said having Glucagon on campus can “be the difference between life and death” for students with Type 1 diabetes and reiterated that the bill is permissive. Representatives of the Texas School Nurses Association and Texas Private Schools Association testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
  • HB 11 (Dutton) relates to the rights, certification, and compensation of public school educators, including financial and other assistance provided to public schools by the Texas Education Agency related to public school educators. See a comparison with HB 100 as filed (on which testimony was also taken during this hearing) and more information on the bill’s provisions. Chairman Dutton laid out a committee substitute, stating that the bill is intended to promote teacher quality. Lubbock ISD Superintendent Kathy Rollo testified “on” HB 11, highlighting the provisions that would expand the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) and allow her district to recognize more teachers. Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri testified for HB 11, saying that TIA, strategic staffing, and paid residency programs and partnerships (all included in the bill), have helped address the vacancy problem in his district. Marlin ISD Superintendent Darryl Henson testified for HB 11, noting that after 10 years of failure, the recent success in MISD is due to the teachers. Henson said that because of the teacher shortage he is currently a sixth-grade math teacher in MISD and believes the bill would help address the vacancy issues in his district.
    Representatives for the teacher organizations testified “on” the bill, making recommendations for improvement. TASA, TASB, TACS, and TEPSA submitted joint written testimony “on” HB 11. After public testimony the committee substitute was left pending.
  • HB 100 (Ken King) relates to the compensation of public school educators and to the public school finance system, including enrollment-based funding for certain allotments under the Foundation School Program. See a comparison with HB 11 (on which testimony was also taken during this hearing) and more information on the bill’s provisions. Rep. King laid out his bill as filed and explained that he is working on a committee substitute. Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Sharon McKinney testified in support of the bill on behalf of her district and TASA. She expressed appreciation for many of the bill’s provisions as filed (teacher compensation and formula transition grants). McKinney suggested a significant increase in the basic allotment was needed and gave examples of inflation affecting her district such as a property insurance increase of 300% since 2019, and food costs that are up 29%.
    Ellen Williams testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), expressing appreciation for the move to enrollment-based funding. Williams discussed the higher costs districts were incurring due to inflation, school safety needs, etc. and testified that it has led to the need for an increase in the basic allotment. Katy ISD Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith testified in support of the bill on behalf of his district and the Texas School Alliance. He said that increases to the basic allotment are greatly needed to provide any kind of substantial raise to teachers, and he is pleased that an inflation factor is expected in the committee substitute. Christy Rome testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Texas School Coalition, echoing the testimony of Smith and asking for discretionary dollars as well. Greg Smith, Executive Director for the Fast Growth School Coalition, asked that consideration be given to eliminating the cap on the Fast Growth Allotment. After additional public testimony the bill was left pending.

The committee also voted the following bills out of committee. They will now go to the full House for consideration:

  • HCR 90 (Kuempel) would designate April 6 as Texas High School Coaches Day for a 10-year period ending in 2033.
  • HB 681 (Keith Bell) would remove sunset dates regarding virtual instruction at a public school and certain teacher certification requirements for virtual courses instituted during the pandemic.
  • CSHB 1297 (Dutton) would require that students be screened using an electronic eye chart as a substitute for a printed eye chart to assess visual acuity. Currently, vision screening in public and private schools must be done using photo screening to detect vision disorders.
  • HB 1959 (Noble, et al.) would require a school district to transfer a child of a peace officer to another campus within the district or to another district upon the peace officer’s request and to the campus requested. A district would not be required to provide transportation for this transfer.
  • HB 2012 (Oliverson, et al.) would prohibit the prohibition of teachers in public school and institutions of higher education from displaying the national motto in their classrooms.
  • CSHB 2209 (Lozano) would establish the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership (R-PEP) program and create an allotment and outcomes bonus under the Foundation School Program to support the program.
  • HB 2647 (Sherman) would allow the board of trustees to create a nonvoting student trustee position on the board.
  • HB 2890 (Cunningham) would increase the vote threshold that the State Board of Education must achieve to veto any charter approvals made by the commissioner of education from a majority of members present and voting to two-thirds of total membership. (9 votes for, 4 against)
  • CSHB 2892 (Buckley) would require a school district to transfer a child of a military servicemember to another campus within the district or to another district upon the servicemember’s request and to the campus requested. A district would not be required to provide transportation for this transfer.
  • CSHB 2929 (Lozano) would attempt to reduce training requirements for teachers by limiting the required amount of time spent on certain training.
  • HB 3803 (Cunningham) would allow parents and guardians to have their children repeat a grade up to grade 8 instead of grade 3. Parents would also be able to request that their child retake a course in high school unless the school determines their child has met all graduation requirements.