Posted by Texas Education on April 29, 2009
A memo from Dr. Sconzo:
Both the State Senate and House have approved appropriations bills for the biennium and both bills have new additional funds for public education ranging form 2.3 to nearly 3 billion. HOWEVER, those funds are contingent on passage of a new funding mechanism bill (ie. SB 982 – HB 1550) and neither of those bills have been voted out of committee yet! SO, we continue to write and visit with Senate and House Education Committee members and your doing likewise in support of SB 982 and HB 1500 would be of SIGNIFICANT help!
It is important to note that there are two other funding mechanism bills that were introduced…in the Senate Education Committee there is SB 2392 introduced by Chairwoman Shapiro and in the House Education Committee there is HB 3646 introduced by Rep. Hochberg. These are not companion bills and they provide insufficient information to know whether or not they would be good for us!
So, we need to stay the course on loud and repetitive support for SB 982 and HB 1550!
One other bill we are getting busy voicing our support for is SB 2374. This bill would raise the funding availability to school districts for the “Existing Debt Allotment.” This is the state funding provided to pay down bond debt. Its funding that has not been increased in a number of years and to us, this bill is the equivalent of 7 cents on our debt tax rate! SO, absent this essential increase, state legislators would cause the need for an increase in local property taxes to just keep pace in paying off bond debt! PLEASE send messages to state elected officials that SB 2374, in effect, means property tax relief!
Thanks Dr. Sconzo for all your hard work!
Posted in Texas Children, texas education, Texas schools, Texas State Legislature | Tagged: Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro R-Plano, HB 1550, HB 2374, HB 2392, HB 3646, Rep. Scott Hochberg, SB 982 | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009
Members of the Humble ISD Board of Trustees including Charles Cunningham, Dan Huberty, Dr. Bonnie Longnion, and Robert Scarfo, as well as Superintendent Guy Sconzo, shared their observations from the Legislative Reception in Austin to start the meeting. About 15 PTA members and three Quest students attended the reception. Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Joe Crabb, as well as aides from the offices of Sen. Dan Patrick, Sen. John Whitmire, Sen. Rodney Ellis and Rep. Debbie Riddle also attended.
Members of the Board and Guy noted that:
- They were especially pleased that Rep. Joe Crabb attended.
- The Texas Senate appears to understand and strongly support the need for additional funding and more equalized funding. House members’ efforts are not as cohesive.
- Two bills – which are mirror images of each other – appear to be the ones we need to hang our hat on at this time. They are SB 982 (written by Sen. Van de Putte) and HB 1555 (written by Rep. Diane Patrick). There are no reliable simulations on how the money would flow at this time.
- The last day to file bills is Friday, March 13th.
- It appears that about $4.0 billion in new money will flow into the education system. $6.0 billion is needed to begin to make us whole. The $4.0 billion is a bridge until the funding system can be overhauled.
- The good news is that legislators understand that there are huge disparities in WADA (it varies from around $3,000 to $12,000). This should be more equalized.
- There will always be some weighting due to variations in property wealth in districts, but the disparity is way too large in the current funding system. Legislators understand the need to keep more equitable funding between school districts.
- No more target revenue. This is a good thing.
- No school districts will lose money in SB 982 and HB 1555. Those who have had high funding levels would get smaller increases than districts that have been short changed. That is, some will not gain ground as quickly as others because they have been funded at higher levels in recent years.
- A possible special session is already under discussion. This is due in part to the Federal stimulus package. All that it encompasses – and the strings attached – are still being studied. Communication from Washington has been slow. Once there is more clarity and transparency from the Feds, then the information must be assimilated by those who must administrate it. Bottom Line: It will take time and unless it is done quickly, we may not know in July what our financial picture is going to be when school starts in August. Legislators know – as do we – that we can’t get school finance done right with the stimulus package on the table with more questions than answers at this point.
- The governor has backed off the 65% rule (for instruction) largely thanks to Rep. Rob Eissler from the Woodlands who chairs the Public Education Committee in the House. This definition about what could be counted toward the 65% did not include some rather critical areas such as counselors, librarians and nurses, for example. These kinds of omissions were a sticking point to school districts.
Suggested next steps include:
- Providing the committee with the names and addresses of the House and Senate Education Committee members, as well as with links to the House and Senate directories
- Margaret Fraissinet will draft a Letter to the Editor for the local newspapers and for the Houston Chronicle and circulate a signature interest form for committee members who want to have their names included (At this writing, the letter is done and the signature interest process is underway. GO MARGARET!)
- Hard copies of the Postcards will be available after Spring Break. Call 281-850-7693 if you need some.
Posted in financing, texas education | Tagged: Charles Cunningham, Dan Huberty, Dr. Bonnie Longnion, Humble ISD Legislative Committee, Margaret Fraissinet, Rep. Daine Patrick, Rep. Debbie Riddle, Rep. Joe Crabb, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Robert Scarfo, SB 1555, SB 982, Sen. Dan Patrick, Sen. John Whitmire, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, Sen. Rodney Ellis, Superintendent Dr. Guy Sconzo, WADA | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Texas Education on March 9, 2009
Not a real busy night at the admin building. I was late because I was all a mess with the time change – yeah, sure 😉 But, most importantly, our message is…well, just that, our message. We are pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to get the message to the Lege…FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!! But…we must get our message out to the community to get our message out to the Lege. Well, thanks to Karen Collier, she’s quicker than me, some links to help you and more sample-letters-to-legislators to use to send to our legislators.
Here are links to the House and Senate Education Committee members:
House Education Committee (pdf)
Senate Committee (pdf)
Our group is following, and supports two bills:
1. House Bill 1555 – Rep. Diane Patrick, Ph.D. and the House sponsor of the only school finance bill filed at this time – HB 1555 (which is identical to SB 982). Rep. Patrick, which she titles “The Texas Public Schools Investment Act”. According to her, this act returns to a formula driven system where every student wins. The act is a fiscally responsible option for legislators to consider.The bill also:
· Restores local control through meaningful discretion
· Meets all three criteria of TEA Budget Rider 89
· Increases funding per weighted student (WADA)
· Cuts calculated recapture (Robin Hood) in half
· Provides method for property tax reduction
2. Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas)
Learned about a new website at the meeting to, to keep you updated on School Finance Equity & Adequacy in Texas called Equity Center.
Read more about HB1555 here and SB 982 here
Posted in financing, funding, Good Stuff, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: HB 1555, Humble ISD Legislative Committee, Karen Collier, Rep. Keving Eltife R-Tyler, Robin Hood formula, SB 982, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte D-San Antonia, Sen. Royce West D-Dallas, State Rep. Diane Patrick R-Arlington, TEA, WADA | Leave a Comment »