The House Public Education Committee met March 9. Chair Harold Dutton began the meeting by announcing that at the request of the authors, HB 691 by Rep. Will Metcalf and HB 759 Rep. Sam Harless had been pulled. The committee heard testimony on the following bills:
Rep. Will Metcalf introduced HB 690, which would require school board trustees to take a course on school safety created by the SBOE and Texas School Safety Center. Grover Campbell, associate executive director for TASB Governmental Relations, testified “on” the bill, noting that the security of faculty and students is a top priority for board members. After noting that Texas board trustees have received 13,750 hours in school safety related training over the past three years, Campbell recommended incorporating any new requirements with existing ones.
Rep. Jon Rosenthal introduced HB 699, which would require districts to excuse an absence for a student that results from a serious or life-threatening illness or related treatment. A student witness testified in support for the bill after sharing his experience with absences due to a chronic illness. Rep. Ken King said that he has heard from some superintendents that an accountability piece for this provision would be important to include and offered to work with Rep. Rosenthal on such a provision.
Rep. Gary VanDeaver introduced HB 773, which would add completion of a program of study of CTE courses as a performance indicator when evaluating high school performance. He said that the problem the bill intends to address is that currently districts don’t get credit for offering these CTE programs of study in the state’s A-F rating system. Kerry Gain, chief academic officer for Del Valle ISD, and Mike Meroney, representing the Texas Association of Manufacturers, testified in support of the bill.
Rep. Keith Bell introduced HB 434, which would add one credit in CTE courses as an alternative to a fine arts credit in the curriculum requirements for the foundation high school program beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. Bell said the intent of the bill is not to disparage fine arts, but rather to give students choices. Rep. Dan Huberty noted that the Legislature has given significant attention to CTE and said that fine art requirements should stay as they are.
Rep. Huberty introduced HB 1147, which adds the Texas National Guard as an entity that indicates military readiness for the purposes of the CCMR bonus.
Rep. Frank introduced HB 547, which would allow home-schooled students who meet certain eligibility requirements to participate in UIL-sponsored activities on behalf of public schools. Olton ISD Superintendent Kevin McCasland and Joe Martin, executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, testified in opposition to the bill. A representative for Texans for Homeschool Children also testified in opposition. Others whose children receive home-school instruction testified in support of the bill.
On behalf of Chair Dutton, Rep. Huberty adjourned the committee subject to the call of the chair and all bills were left pending.