On May 11 the Senate Education Committee voted out a committee substitute to HB 1525, the HB 3 cleanup bill. Chair Larry Taylor noted that there is still room for work to be done on the bill prior to final passage.
The chairman said that school districts will receive approximately $11 billion in ESSER III funds, and there is concern that districts will not be able to reasonably spend these funds in three years as federally required. The substitute would require school districts to reserve a portion of the federal funds to be spent over five years rather than the three. The substitute requires TEA to determine the portion to be reserved by school districts. School districts could access the portion set aside in reserves beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
There is a provision allowing the commissioner to waive the requirement that a district reserve funds if the school district demonstrates it will not be in compliance with federal maintenance of effort or equity requirements, or the district submits a plan to TEA that provides for the acceleration of all students who are not performing at grade level by the 2023-24 school year. If the commissioner provides a waiver to a school district, the commissioner may set a lower amount the district must put in reserves, allowing the district to meet the maintenance of effort or equity requirements or fully waive the requirement that the district put funds in fund balance.
Other highlights from the bill as substituted:
- Adds the small and mid-sized adjustment to the basic allotment for calculating CTE funding
- Caps formula transition grant funding to $400 for each year of the biennium
- Adds uncertified teachers to the list of those who can receive the teacher incentive allotment
- Extends deadline for completion of the reading academies by one year to 2022-23
- Allows IMA funds to be used for distance learning and related technologies
- Tiers the fast growth allotment: 0.30 weight in 2021-22; 0.348 2022-23, and 0.35 in 2023-24 and beyond. Caps spending on this allotment at $270 million for 2021-22 school year; $310 million for the 2022-23 school year; and $315 million for the 2023-24 school year.
- Requires the commissioner to come back the following year and get any recapture money the state failed to collect from a district the agency failed to notify was subject to recapture
The full Senate will now take up the measure.
The committee also passed CSSB 1968 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt out of committee with a 7-4 vote. The bill would establish the Family Educational Relief Program and an insurance premium tax credit for contributions made for purposes of that program.