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The Senate Education Committee, which has met on Thursdays so far this session, met Tuesday, April 13.

The committee voted out the following bills, which will go to the Senate for consideration:

  • CSSB 369 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, as filed, would require high school counselors to provide notice of FAFSA availability before noting that a student did not choose to complete a financial aid form. The committee passed a committee substitute, but the language is not publicly available.
  • CSSB 462 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, as filed, would provide funding under the transportation allotment for schools transporting meals and instructional materials to a student’s residence. The reimbursement would be the same as for the transportation system’s normal routes. The committee passed a committee substitute, but the language is not publicly available.
  • SB 785 by Sen. Brandon Creighton would make all school marshal licenses expire on August 31 after the second anniversary of licensure to create a unified expiration date as opposed to marshals’ birthdays as is current practice.
  • SB 1063 by Sen. Carol Alvarado would create an optional one-half credit course entitled “Personal Financial Literacy and Economics.” This new course would consist of one-third instruction time in economics and two-thirds instruction time in personal financial literacy. Students would be able to take the personal financial literacy course and fulfill the existing one-half credit requirement in economics.
  • CSSB 1267 by Sen. Royce West would amend various laws governing continuing education and training requirements for educators and school personnel, including professional development for mathematics, cybersecurity, and student counseling. West explained that he was planning to include language regarding diverse student populations and continuing education requirements in the bill that was previously removed. He also agreed to work with Sen. Jose Menendez to ensure that language in current law around suicide prevention training is not weakened through this bill.
  • CSSB 1615 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt would create a collaborative multiple-agency advisory committee to inform needs, assessment, accountability and performance framework for adult high school programs. It would build a regulatory framework that addresses the needs of adult learners who are taking care of families and working; allow for a graduated approach to statewide expansion; add further clarification to components of the school model; and create clear guidelines for assessment and performance. The committee passed a committee substitute, but the language is not publicly available.
  • SB 1356 by Sen. Bryan Hughes would create a program to facilitate public school tutoring by certain teachers. Under the bill, the commissioner of education would receive applications from nonprofit teacher organizations, which would facilitate tutoring of K-12 students by their members. Interested teachers may tutor on a for-hire or voluntary basis, in person or online. Rehire penalties would not count against tutors who are retired teachers.
  • SB 1696 by Sen. Angela Paxton would establish a system for sharing information regarding cyberattacks or other cybersecurity incidents occurring in districts.
  • SB 1697 by Sen. Angela Paxton would allow parents to hold a student back a grade or enter prekindergarten or kindergarten if they were eligible but did not enroll the previous year.
  • SB 1522 by Chair Larry Taylor would change the calculation of average daily attendance by limiting hold harmless funding to one school year beyond the time of the start of a calamity. If an event such as a pandemic began in the fall, the hold harmless would extend into the spring and the next fall semester.

The committee also heard testimony on the following bills:

Sen. Royce West laid out SB 272, which would require the board of trustees of each school district to create a nonvoting student trustee position on the board.

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa laid out SB 279, which would require that contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line, and a local suicide prevention hotline be printed on student ID cards issued by public schools in grades 7-12. Similarly, the bill would also require contact info for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line, the campus police department or local nonemergency police contact, as well as the local suicide prevention hotline to be printed on each student ID card issued by an institution of higher education. SB 279 is the companion bill to HB 1014, which was heard in the House Public Education Committee on April 6.

Sen. Eddie Lucio laid out SB 560, which would require TEA to collaborate with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as well as the Texas Workforce Commission to develop a strategic plan that would increase the number of educators certified for bilingual instruction; increase the number of dual language immersion models used in public schools; educate on the importance of bilingual education in early childhood; adopt a uniform process for identifying students with limited English proficiency; and increase the number of bilingual and multilingual high school graduates. Plan must be submitted no later than December 1, 2022.

Sen. Borris Miles laid out SB 746 relating to requiring the parent of a student enrolled in a school district to provide and update a student’s contact information.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst laid out SB 801, which would require TEA to develop an agricultural education program for elementary students, with the goal of encouraging appreciation and improving students’ understanding of agriculture. TEA must develop a list of agriculture programs approved by the agency and the SBOE that may be used as part of the curriculum for elementary students, at no cost to the district or charter school.

Sen. Brandon Creighton laid out SB 1095, which would require school districts to notify parents of career and technology education programs or other work-based education programs in the district, including internships, externships, apprenticeships or P-TECH programs. Parents must also be notified about subsidies based on financial need to assist with fees paid to take AP tests or IB examinations and the qualifications for the education programs and subsidy opportunities.

Sen. Kel Seliger laid out SB 1191, which would clarify that the definition of a “school resource officer” does not include a peace officer who provides law enforcement at a public school or public school event only for extracurricular activities.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt laid out SB 1590, which would require the SBEC to propose rules for candidate observations to occur virtually in the same rigorous manner as in-person options.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini laid out SB 2105, which would establish a process for appointing educational representation for students with disabilities in compliance with federal law. 34 CFR 300.520(b) requires states to establish procedures for appointing a parent (of a child with a disability) to represent the educational interests of the child. Children who have been certified as not having the capacity to provide informed consent regarding their educational program would be assigned an “educational representative.” That person can be the student’s spouse, parent/guardian/or another person who is preferred by the student, not employed by the district, and with significant knowledge of the student’s strengths, weaknesses and goals.

All bills on which testimony was heard were left pending.