The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, April 6, to hear testimony on 38 bills:
Rep. Will Metcalf laid out HB 3597, which provides cleanup language for last session’s SB 11 (school safety). It would require a district to include a plan for responding to a train derailment for any district facility located within 1,000 yards of a railroad track. It would also slightly change the language relating to emergency drills, giving the commissioner the ability to designate the number and type of mandatory school drills to be conducted each semester of the school year — not exceeding a total of eight drills. The bill strikes language that specifies the types of drills, and gives the commissioner latitude to make that determination. The bill would shorten the amount of time a district has to report the results of its model safety and security audit to three months, once notified by the Texas School Safety Center that their results are overdue. The bill requires that copies of any MOU between a district and an entity to address issues of school safety be provided to the Texas School Safety Center. Such MOUs are confidential and not subject to disclosure under the open records act. The bill would allow Texas State University access to the criminal history record information maintained by DPS for any person who is registering with the Texas School Safety Center to provide school safety or security consulting services. Resource witnesses from the Texas School Safety Center and TEA received no questions from committee members. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Sam Harless laid out a committee substitute for HB 3256, which would make the information on the appraisal records for teachers and principals employed by a public school confidential and not subject to disclosure to the public. Additionally, it would permit a teacher or principal to omit their home address from their driver’s license and instead to list the street address of the public school where they are employed. A witness requested that the bill extend to all school employees. The bill was left pending.
Rep. James White laid out HB 3450, which would deem the use of force against a student as justified in instances where the force is permitted as a form of corporal punishment; or when the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to protect the safety of students and/or staff of the school; to control, train, or educate the student or to maintain discipline in a group. For the purposes of this law, an employee includes an independent contractor. The bill clarifies that use of an aversive technique is prohibited and is not a justified use of force. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Gene Wu laid out a substitute for HB 1194, which would establish a report of incident-based data on total number of restraints administered to a student and citations issued to students in public and charter schools. The data submitted must include such information as: race/ethnicity of the student; whether the student is eligible for special education services; whether the student is of limited English proficiency; whether the student is in the conservatorship of DFPS or homeless; whether the offense occurred during regular school hours, on school property, etc. The report may not identify the peace officer who issued a citation and their identity shall be considered confidential and not subject to disclosure under open records laws. Wu said the reason for the bill was a high number of students being arrested in response to changes in state law that eliminated zero tolerance policies, etc. He wants to identify schools/districts that overuse arrests to deal with discipline problems that could be dealt with in another way. He was surprised that there was not statewide data on this, so he filed the bill to start collecting it to make future policy. Rep. Dan Huberty asked if Wu had spoken to any school districts about the costs related to implementing this bill. Wu said he had not but this is data districts are collecting already. Testimony was both for and against the bill. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez laid out HB 81, which he said he had filed in two previous sessions. It would permit school districts that impose a turnaround plan on a campus to allow that campus to operate as a community school. HB 81 lists the programs and services that may be offered, requires the campus to establish a partnership team with a lead organization that has experience developing and implementing a community school plan, and designate an employee to serve as the community school coordinator. A campus that seeks to operate as a community school must obtain approval for the plan from at least 75 percent of the faculty and 75 percent of parents of students enrolled in the campus. The school board must approve the plan as well. The commissioner of education may not close a low-performing campus without giving it the opportunity to operate as a community school for at least two years. Rodriguez said the community school model reestablishes the school as nucleus of neighborhood. Testimony was in favor of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Rafael Anchia laid out HB 2874, which would require every high school student, enrolled in a school district or open-enrollment charter school, to be issued a school identification card that includes their name, photo, and date of birth. The intent of the bill is to provide students with ID to help homeless/other students with official ID needed to secure services. Students testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Matt Krause laid out a substitute for HB 3846. He said he filed again this session despite the learning loss caused by the pandemic out of concern for student and faculty mental health. The bill would prohibit schools that are designated as districts of innovation from being exempt from the first for last day of instruction requirements under law when the school chooses to reapply to adopt a district of innovation plan. The requirements for scheduling of the first and last day of school are amended to provide that a school district must schedule the last day of school between May 15 and the Friday that precedes Memorial Day, except in cases where a district operates a year-round system in which case they may schedule the last day of school after the Friday preceding Memorial Day. Huberty told Krause that he does not like the bill because it goes against what a District of Innovation is supposed to be and because it would not help with the learning loss resulting from the pandemic. Representatives of summer camps and Boy Scouts testified for the bill. Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers was among those who testified against the bill, stating it would prevent his district from piloting a nontraditional calendar that would extend learning into summer and force them to shorten other needed breaks throughout the school year. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins laid out HB 622, which would direct the State Board Educator Certification to propose rules to create an abbreviated educator prep program for individuals seeking certification in either marketing or health science technology to help with a shortage of teachers with technical skills in these areas. Each program must require a minimum of 200 hours of coursework or training. Randolph Field ISD Superintendent Brian Holt testified for the bill, stating that it is difficult to find certified teachers. The bill was left pending.
Rep. J.M. Lozano laid out HB 3804, which he said is the result of an educator and administrator working group on finding ways to improve educator training. The bill, as filed (Lozano said a substitute is being written), would amend various laws governing continuing education and training requirements for educators and school personnel. Get a summary of the bill’s extensive provisions by searching for HB 3804 using TASA’s Bill Tracker. Tim Miller, superintendent in residence with Raise Your Hand Texas, Holly Eaton with TCTA, and Monte Exter with ATPE testified for the bill. Others testified on or against the bill, citing concerns with specific portions of the bill. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Christina Morales laid out HB 1504, which would add ethnic studies, including Mexican American and African American studies to the social studies foundation curriculum taught in kindergarten through 12th grade. For the foundation high school program, at least 1/2 credit in Mexican American studies and 1/2 credit in African American studies would be required out of the three credits in social studies. Several witnesses testified for this bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Terry Canales laid out HB 189, which seeks to prevent excessive severance packages paid by charter schools. It would require that open enrollment charter school governing bodies follow the same procedures as the board of trustees of a school district when making a severance payment to a superintendent or administrator upon early termination of his/her contract. This requires that the governing body report the terms of the severance payment to the commissioner of education. The commissioner is then required to reduce the open enrollment charter school’s Foundation School Program funds by the amount that the amount of the severance payment to the administrator exceeds an amount equal to one year’s salary and benefits under the administrator’s terminated contract. The bill was left pending without any testimony.
Rep. Scott Sanford laid out HB 3528, which would expand the grade levels that can be offered by the TxVSN to Kindergarten through eighth grade (adding K-2). It would also expand the parent notification required yearly about the TxVSN to be all parents K-12. Elizabeth Nelson, executive director of the Lone Star Online Academy at Roscoe CISD, as well as a teacher from the school, testified for the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Robert Guerra laid out HB 2256, which would require the State Board for Educator Certification to establish a bilingual special education certificate. Representatives of Texans Care for Children and the Intercultural Development Research Association testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. John Bucy laid out a substitute for HB 1014, which would require that student ID cards issued to students in sixth and higher grades have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Life Line contact information printed on the card. Information about local suicide prevention hotlines may be included as well. The bill would also require the same crisis contact information be printed on student ID cards issued by all institutions of higher education and career schools/colleges. The committee sub removes the requirement for private schools. Several witnesses testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Andrew Murr laid out HB 3864, which would permit a school district to excuse a student in their junior or senior year of high school from school attendance in order for the student to visit a professional at their workplace for the purpose of determining the student’s interest in pursuing a career in the professional’s field. Students would be permitted a maximum of two excused absences for this purpose in both their junior and senior years. The district is required to adopt a policy to determine when an absence can be excused for this purpose and a procedure to verify the student’s visit at the workplace occurred. Witnesses testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Gina Hinojosa laid out a substitute for HB 97, which would prohibit an open enrollment charter school from excluding a student from admission on the basis of discipline history. The substitute removes portions of the bill (filed in prior sessions) that relate to the common application that the Legislature created last session for charter schools. HB 97 would allow the student to be excluded if they are currently placed in a disciplinary alternative education program, a juvenile alternative education program, or have been expelled from a school district or open-enrollment charter. The bill would also allow a charter to “exclude” a student from a campus, including a campus that includes a child care facility, based on a student’s conviction for a criminal offense that would prevent the student from otherwise being admitted to a school district campus that includes a child care facility. HB 97 also prohibits a charter from requesting information about an applicant’s discipline history from the applicant or the school, nor can that information be requested in the admissions application. The only exception to this is in the case of a student that has been convicted of an offense that would prevent them from being admitted to a school district campus that includes a child care facility, or in the case where a student attempts to enroll in the charter school prior to the conclusion of a disciplinary action at another school. The CEO of the Texas Charter School Association and a representative of KIPP Texas testified against the bill. Representatives of Disability Rights Texas, Raise Your Hand Texas, and the Texas NAACP testified in support of the bill. Former Texas House member Dr. Mike Villarreal testified that, based on a study in Bexar County, charter school students with a disciplinary infraction on their record changed schools at a higher percentage rate than those in the same situation at regular school districts. Tracy Fisher, a Coppell ISD trustee, testified in support of the bill on behalf of TASB. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Jay Dean laid out HB 2802 after noting that he had just received a text stating that the online STAAR administration for grades 4 and 7 writing and the English I EOC exam had failed. TEA sent notification that students could be sent home for the day and would have to return at another time to retest. The bill would require the commissioner to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver of the requirement of administration of assessment instruments for a school year when a statewide disaster has been declared by the president or the governor, such that school district operations are significantly disrupted, including in-person attendance in a majority of school districts in the state. If the waiver is not granted, the commissioner is prohibited from using the results of assessment instruments for the purposes of evaluating school district or campus performance the applicable school year or for determining a student’s qualification for promotion or graduation. If the bill is passed, the commissioner is instructed to immediately apply for a waiver of annual assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. No witnesses testified on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Gary Gates laid out a substitute for HB 2554, which he said he filed for students who will not go to college. It would establish joint vocational school districts composed of two or more school districts that may also be joined by a municipality or county, specifies their governance structure, establishes student eligibility and more. Huberty questioned Gates about the fiscal note attached; he said $800,000 did not seem like enough to create another school district with the staff and infrastructure needed. Rep. Alma Allen had Gates clarify that students who graduate from this district would still receive a diploma that provides them with the option to attend college. Robin Painovich, executive director of the Career and Technical Association of Texas, testified in opposition to the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Ryan Guillen laid out HB 1207, which would establish a turnaround specialist endorsement for principal certifications. This endorsement would be provided by no more than three educator preparation programs and strive to prepare principals to improve teacher and student performance at one or more campuses assigned an overall performance rating of F. The approved programs would be selected by SBEC and periodically evaluated by the board. Mark Terry, deputy executive director of TEPSA, testified for the bill. No other testimony was given on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Lacey Hull laid out a substitute for HB 2975, which would prohibit a police officer or school security personnel from restraining a student who is 10 years or younger on school property or on a school-sponsored/school related activity. The bill also restricts rules the commissioner of education can adopt around restraint to comply with this provision. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Mary González laid out a substitute for HB 244, which she said was inspired by a shortage of computer science teachers. The bill would create a statewide professional development grant program for teachers to encourage them to obtain a computer science certification and continue professional development in coding, computational thinking, and computer science education. The commissioner would be charged with establishing eligibility standards that must be met by institutions of higher education, regional ESCs, school districts, or nonprofits that have demonstrated experience in providing professional development through a statewide network. The bill places a cap on the amount of grant awards for each biennium of $4 million. Testimony was supportive of the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Mary González laid out HB 450, which she said seeks to increase transparency and communication between charter and regular schools. The bill would require a charter holder to provide written notice of establishment of a new charter school campus at least 18 months prior to the date on which the campus is to open. (Currently, the law allows a charter school to provide such notice, but does not require it and does not set 18 months as the minimum.) The bill expands notice requirements to require the commissioner to notify each superintendent and board of trustees from each school district likely to be impacted by the expansion, as well as to provide notice to each member of the Legislature that represents the geographic area served by the proposed school or campus. HB 450 would also decrease the number of days that the commissioner has to notify a charter holder whether their expansion request has been approved or denied. Current law allows the commissioner 60 days — this bill would lower it to 30 days. East Central ISD Superintendent Roland Toscano, Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers, and Charles Luke with Pastors for Texas Children testified for the bill. The CEO of the Texas Charter School Association and others testified against the bill. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos laid out HB 1144, which she noted passed out of committee last session but didn’t make it to the House floor. The bill would require that educators be trained at least once every two years in suicide prevention, recognizing signs of mental health conditions and substance abuse; strategies for establishing and maintaining positive relationships among students (including conflict resolution); how grief and trauma effect student learning and behavior; and preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying. Several witnesses testified for the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos laid out HB 1249, which she said passed out of committee last session but didn’t make it to the House floor. It would require that the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school ensure that the school’s three most recent annual financial statements are posted on the school’s website with a prominent link that is clearly identifiable. (The report referenced is the annual financial statement — wherein the school must show for each fund: total receipts, itemized by source of revenue; total disbursements, itemized by nature of expenditure; and the balance in the fund at close of the fiscal year.) Ellen Williams testified in support of the bill on behalf of TASA. Tracy Fisher, representing TASB, also testified in favor of the bill. A representative of the charter school association was the only one to testify against the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Alma Allen laid out HB 2756, which would permit a school district or open-enrollment charter school to donate food to a nonprofit organization through a person who is directly and officially affiliated with the campus, including through a parent of a student enrolled. The bill amends the types of food that can be donated specifying that only packaged unserved food that is packaged on campus and has not been removed from the cafeteria may be donated. Wrapped, raw, unserved produce may be served, but unpeeled fruit may not be. Food that must be maintained at a certain temperature for safety may not be donated unless the campus has maintained the food at the required temperature. Anyone who assists in prep and distribution of food as a volunteer must complete or be supervised by someone who has completed, a basic food safety education or training program for food handlers. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Steve Allison laid out a substitute for HB 3298, which would require the commissioner of education to establish a competitive professional development grant program to encourage teachers to obtain computer science certification and continue professional development in coding, computational thinking, and computer science education. The total amount of grants awarded many not exceed $4 million for the state fiscal biennium. TEA is required to establish the computer science strategic advisory committee to develop recommendations for increasing computer science instruction and participation in public schools. The bill specifies requirements related to committee makeup and reporting. Allison said that HB 244 (above) by Gonzalez addresses the funding piece of this bill through its grant program. Testimony was positive on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Steve Allison laid out HB 3299, which would add the relationship between physical and mental health as part of the health topics covered under the required curriculum in public schools. No testimony was given on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Gary VanDeaver laid out a substitute for HB 1942, which would amend the current framework for an adult high school diploma and industry certification charter school program. An advisory committee would be established to make recommendations to the commissioner related to implementation of the program, and each member appointed would have to have experience or expertise in adult or workforce education. The commissioner may not grant more than two charters for adult high school diploma or industry certification charter school programs in a calendar year. The bill also amends the adult education program requirements to require that a “significant portion” of instruction be delivered in person (current law requires 75%). The bill would require the commissioner to revoke the charter of an education program that fails to meet minimum performance standards established by the commissioner on the applicable performance frameworks for three consecutive school years. A school leader and student of the Excel Center testified for the bill, as did Josh Sanderson with the Equity Center. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Diego Bernal laid out HB 3932, which would bring Texas into alignment with federal requirements by establishing the State Advisory Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Testimony was positive on the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Diego Bernal laid out a substitute for HB 220, which would allow campuses that have received an overall performance rating of “F” for four years over a 10-year period to apply to be designated as a “resource campus” that provides quality education and enrichment for campus students. Bernal said the bill would allow a district to hire a new principal, rehire the entire teaching corps (it wouldn’t terminate existing teachers), and limit class sizes. He said it does carry a fiscal note of $18 million (2023), increasing to $56 million in 2025. In dialogue with Chair Dutton, Bernal said it requires more funding, strategically placed, to “unlock the genius” in certain kids and said that it’s not an issue of governance because the schools continue to fail despite different leaders. Bernal said it’s the environment of generational poverty surrounding these schools that is the problem. Dutton stated several times that schools could have made these changes before.
Chair Harold Dutton laid out a substitute for HB 998, which would require the commissioner of education to evaluate dropout recovery schools under the alternative education accountability procedures when assigning performance ratings. This includes adopting performance targets for the student achievement domain and the school progress domain that are based on average performance of school districts and campuses registered under the alternative education accountability procedures for the preceding school year. Additionally, the commissioner must attribute at minimum a scaled score of 60 for closing the gaps domain for a dropout recovery school. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Keith Bell laid out HB 1776, which would require districts to offer an elective course on the founding principles of the United States in the curriculum for public high school students and “permit and encourage” the posting of the founding documents of the United States in public school buildings. The Texas Public Policy Foundation testified in support of the bill. A representative of the charter school association testified against the bill, stating it takes flexibility away from schools. The bill was left pending.
Rep. Dan Huberty laid out a substitute for HB 3261, relating to the electronic administration of assessment instruments in public schools and to certain measures to support internet connectivity for purposes of those assessment instruments. The substitute removes the expiration date for the transition plan to online testing, creates a matching grant program administered by the commissioner (expiring September 2025), adjusts the IMA to allow for purchase of infrastructure, and more. A representative of the Instructional Materials Coordinators Association of Texas testified against the bill. TCEA didn’t testify but registered support for the bill, which was left pending.
Rep. Dan Huberty laid out a substitute for HB 3445, which would require school districts and charter schools to review their fund balances annually to determine the amount of excess funds on hand. Excess funds are defined for a school district as the total amount of cash on hand or unobligated funds that exceed the cost of 110 days of district operating expenses. For charter schools, excess funds are defined as the total amount of a school’s cash on hand or net assets that exceeds the 80 days of school operating expenses. By the end of the fiscal year, a district or school must use the excess funds for the following: pay down debt obligations; lower the district’s M&O tax rate; provide employee compensation; and/or pay costs associated with deferred maintenance. Districts with excess funds are not permitted to issue a bond or hold a bond election for any period of the fiscal year following a determination that the district has excess funds. A charter school is not permitted to receive supplemental funding or apply for bonds guaranteed by the permanent school fund for any period of the fiscal year following a determination that they the school has excess funds. If the commissioner determines that a district or school is not in compliance with the provisions related to expenditure of excess funds, the commissioner must increase the amount the districts’ local share or reduce the school’s entitlement in an amount equal to the district or school’s excess funds not spent as required. These requirements do not apply to: special purpose school districts operated by an institution of higher education; an open-enrollment charter school operated under a charter granted to a governmental entity; or a charter school granted a charter under the laws allow charters to be granted to a college or university or junior college.
Huberty stated his frustration with districts that use fund balances to build new facilities rather than go out for bonds. Rep. Ken King said that he has property poor and property rich school districts in his House district that have large fund balances, and he thinks it’s good financial management of local tax money rather than widespread abuse of the system. King stated he wants to be sure the state doesn’t punish districts that are being good stewards and expressed concern that he represents16 of the 19 districts that HB 3 didn’t provide additional funding for, and that those districts need to hold onto their fund balances to cover costs.
Rep. VanDeaver reminded the committee that sometimes programs get funded one session and don’t get funded the next, so he understands why a school district is conservative with spending all the funding they receive for items such as personnel raises, because if the funding is not there the next time, they have to cut pay or eliminate jobs. He cautioned the committee to focus on the bad actors and not “shoot for one and hit 1,000.” Amanda Brownson, representing TASB and the Texas School Alliance, testified against the bill, stating that some districts have changed their fiscal years, resulting in two months additional funding in their accounts. She said that small districts, those in the Hurricane zone, and others that face uncertainty, need fund balances. She also stated that anything the Legislature can do to minimize funding surprises can help districts avoid the need to keep large fund balances. TASB also testified against the bill, as did Christy Rome with the Texas School Coalition. Huberty said he’s “sick and tired” of hearing districts ask for more funding when district fund balance (the total statewide) has doubled since 2011. He said if the bill doesn’t progress, he is going to find a way to attach it to another bill so there can be discussion on the House floor. The bill was left pending.
Chair Harold Dutton laid out HB 572, which would create a dropout recovery competency-based educational pilot program in qualifying charter schools for the 2022-2023 school year. To be authorized for the pilot program, a charter school must serve grades 9-12 and have at least 50% of their students age 17 or older as of September 1 in the fall semester of the year the school applies for authorization based on PEIMS submissions and the school must also meet the eligibility requirements and register under alternative education accountability procedures. The bill establishes eligibility requirements for students. Get a summary of the bill’s extensive provisions by searching for HB 572 using TASA’s Bill Tracker. Testimony was favorable on the bill, which was left pending.
Chair Harold Dutton laid out a substitute for HB 4545, which would permit the commissioner to use available funds to purchase curriculum programs and other instructional tools to provide to school districts and charter schools. School districts would be required to establish an accelerated learning committee for each student who does not perform satisfactorily on the third-grade, fifth-grade, or eighth-grade math or reading assessment instrument. Students who fail to perform satisfactorily on an assessment must be provided accelerated instruction in the applicable subject during the subsequent summer or school year. The bill provides detailed requirements for the accelerated instruction. The substitute adds a provision so that accelerated learning is not used as a punishment, and it provides a waiver to districts/charters of the assignment of a certified teacher. The bill also establishes the Strong Foundations Grant Program to be administered by the commissioner. The program would be for programs on campuses with students enrolled in pre-K through fifth grade to implement a rigorous school approach that combines high-quality instruction, materials, and support structures. It also requires the SBOE to ensure the mathematics assessment instrument for a grade level aligns with the technology expectations included in the TEKS for that grade level. The bill would allow the superintendent of a school to apply to the commissioner for a waiver of the requirement that assessments not be administered on the first instructional day of a week in instances where there are local donations that have significantly impacted the district’s ability to comply. School districts and open-enrollment charters would be entitled to $500 for each successfully accelerated student who is not educationally disadvantaged and $1,000 for each successfully accelerated student who is educationally disadvantaged. A district or charter school is entitled to $250 per sustained accelerated student who is not educationally disadvantaged and $500 for each sustained accelerated student who is educationally disadvantaged. TASA submitted written testimony against the bill. A representative of the Instructional Materials Coordinators Association of Texas and David Anderson with Raise Your Hand Texas testified against the bill, stating that the financial incentivization of adults will result in greater inequity in the school finance system. Christy Rome with the Texas School Coalition urged caution with the provision related to purchase of instructional materials not being a local decision. The bill was left pending.
Rep. James Talarico laid out a substitute for HB 41, which would require a school district to maintain an average ratio of a minimum of one certified teacher or teacher’s aide for each 11 students in any public pre-K class. The bill also attempts to limit pre-K class sizes to 22 students by referring to the section of law that prescribes limits on class sizes; however, that section of law does not contemplate pre-K classes in its class size requirements, so it is unclear if the requirement to maintain the class size requirement discussed in the section is effective. The substitute adds a waiver provision for districts that can’t meet the ratio and applies all bill provisions to open-enrollment charters. Huberty asked Talarico what the cost to districts would be. Talarico stressed that the waiver provision is intended to prevent schools from facing a sudden financial burden, although the expectation is that all districts move toward this standard. Texans Care for Children testified in support of the bill, which was left pending.
Chair Harold Dutton laid out HB 4465, which would require the commissioner to establish a grant program (using ESSER funds) to assist school districts, charter schools, and regional ESCs in overcoming negative impacts on education due to a state of disaster such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program can include: extending instructional time; broadband grants to ensure access to virtual instruction; innovation in curriculum and instruction; improvements in air and water quality at school facilities and accelerated learning. TEA could administer the grant program or contract with regional ESCs to do so. The commissioner could withhold any state funds due to a school district or charter school not complying with terms of the grant. The bill delays the period during which the commissioner may not make an adjustment to a school’s funding entitlement or modify dates of a district’s adoption of M&O tax rate to be in 2023-2024, and expiring on September 1, 2025. The bill provides a mechanism for adjustment to a district’s entitlement to prevent generational educational decline. The bill also gives the commissioner authority to adjust the entitlement in order to ensure compliance with federal maintenance requirements under the Federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Karen Smith, the CFO for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, testified on behalf of the Texas School Alliance and asked for the information as soon as possible as to how the ESSER funds would be allocated so districts could complete their budgeting processes and requested flexibility for districts in spending the funds for remediation, etc. David Anderson with Raise Your Hand Texas testified in “reluctant opposition” to the bill because it “doesn’t do enough” and it’s unclear looking at the bill how much federal funding will flow to districts or when. He said the money should flow based on a legislative decision rather than by “someone else down the road.” Christy Rome with the Texas School Coalition testified on the bill, expressing concerns about the authority the bill grants the commissioner in allocating the funds. TASA also submitted written testimony against the bill, which was left pending.
Chair Dutton announced that the committee will meet 15 minutes after the full House adjourns on Wednesday to vote out bills. The committee adjourned at 10:45 p.m.