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Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Dan Patrick’

WADA gap widens under HB 3646

Posted by Texas Education on May 20, 2009

If we didn’t have enough problems with funding, HB 3646 by Rep. Scott Hochberg, well, suffice it to say that under HB 3646 Humble ISD will receive a $100 per WADA increase. Katy ISD, which already receives approximately $300 more per WADA than we do, will receive an additional $272 per WADA under HB 3646! Looks like the equity gap widens to me! And Sheldon ISD which already receives about $1,100 more per WADA than we do, will receive the same $100 per WADA increase as we do under HB 3646.

Also under HB 3646 is a $1.9 billion school finance reform package that purports to improve funding equity among districts and provides a $800 across the board salary increase for teachers. However for us, is much too little by way of needed relief for the next biennium and it is far from equitable!

HB 3646 will provide between $4 – $5 million in new money to our district in each year of the biennium and nearly half of those funds would have to be used to fund the $800 salary increase to teachers! Now there is no debating that teachers not only need and deserve a salary increase of way more than $800, BUT here we go again with the Legislature giving with the right hand and taking some back with the left hand trick! Having cut $27 million from our operating budget since 2002 and being frozen at the 2005-06 total operating revenue level, we need much more than $4 – $5 million annually from the state to even get close to where we were in 2004-05!

Our only hope for getting the right thing done in Austin now lies with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the Senate. Whether the Senate Education Committee advances Sen. Van de Putte’s SB 982 or Sen. Shapiro’s SB 2392, we need them to right the wrongs of HB 3646!

PLEASE contact the members of the Senate Education Committee and urge them to truly address adequacy and equity in funding to our schools. For me, it is not a threat, it is just a statement of fact, the only outcome of HB 3646 for us is heading back to court.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, Chair
Sen. Dan Patrick, Vice Chair
Sen. Tommy Williams
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte
Sen. Royce West
Sen. Mario Gallegos
Sen. Steve Ogden
Sen. Wendy Davis
Sen. Kip Averitt

Posted in financing, funding, good stuff - not quite, texas education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas PTA Action Alert – what you need to know!

Posted by Texas Education on April 7, 2009

Members of Senate Education will be considering a bill to create a voucher program for children with autism on Tuesday of this week.

Please call the following members of the Senate Education Committee and urge them to Oppose SB 1301, SB 183, SB 2204!

What you need to know:
Texas cannot afford to finance private education as well as public education. There are two ways to pay for vouchers-take money from already under-funded public schools or raise taxes. Both are unacceptable.

  • Public policy should respect parental choice but provide for all students. The best public policy is to provide parents with even more choices within the public schools, which serve 94.5% of Texas children. Legislators should concentrate on making all public schools stronger, safer, more challenging and accountable. Public tax dollars should be spent only to improve public schools-not to assist the small number of parents who choose to enroll their children in private academies or religious schools.
  • Inserting the word “private” doesn’t make a school good. There is no proof that private school vouchers would improve students’ academic performance. In fact, students attending private schools under the Milwaukee and Cleveland voucher programs did not outperform their public school peers.
  • Vouchers don’t create a “competitive marketplace.” Competition is based on an even playing field; there is no fair competition when “competitors” play by different rules. Public schools must accept all applicants, private schools don’t. Private schools are not required to provide transportation, special education, bilingual education, free and reduced price lunches, and many other programs that public schools provide.
  • While private school vouchers might cover a portion of the cost of education, many parents would not be able to afford the likely additional costs beyond the amount of the voucher.
  • State and Federal regulations such as IDEA that protect students with special educational needs require the development and maintenance of an educational plan for each student. This right is not guaranteed in private schools.
  • Not all communities have private programs for children with autism, so legislation would create this “opportunity” for a small number of children. Private programs for students with autism in more rural areas of Texas are few in number and therefore not a choice.
  • Special education certification is required for public educators, but not for private school employees. 
  • What you can do:

    Contact the following members of Senate Education and tell them the following:
    Sen. Florence Shapiro, chair @ 512-463-0108 – “I am a member of Texas PTA, with over 600,000 members and I oppose voucher programs such as those proposed in SB 1301, 2204 and 183.”

    Sen. Dan Patrick @ 512-463 0107 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Kip Averitt @ 512-463 0122 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Steve Ogden @ 512-463 0105 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Tommy Williams @ 512-463 0104 – “I am a member of Texas PTA, with over 600,000 members and I oppose voucher programs such as proposed in SB 1301, 2204, and 183.”

    Encourage each Senator:
    Instead of funding a program for students to go to a private school, why not invest in on-going, comprehensive professional development for instructors of students with disabilities such as autism, so that teachers and teaching assistants are better equipped to work with students with special needs? This would be money well spent, money that would be used to improve the training of all teachers of students with disabilities, unlike voucher program funding that would be used for a few students without improving the educational environment for the students left behind. Several bills have been filed this session that create professional development academies and require on-going professional development in best practices related to education for students with special needs. The key is to fund these programs so that all school districts may take full advantage of them.

    Thank you for using your voice to help our kids!

    Posted in financing, In-the-news, Texas PTA, vouchers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Media release from Texas Charter Schools

    Posted by Texas Education on March 27, 2009

    chrtschls1MEDIA ADVISORY


    CONTACT: Josie Duckett (512) 584-8272


    WHEN: Monday, March 30, 2009

    1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

    WHERE: Toll Free Teleconference

    Dial-in: (218) 339-2500

    Passcode: 773927#

    WHO: Senator Dan Patrick, Author of Senate Bill 1830

    David Dunn, Executive Director of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)

    WHAT: There will be a press conference call on Monday, March 30th, in anticipation of the Senate Education Committee hearing for SB 1830 (Relating to the establishment, operation, and funding of open-enrollment charter schools) which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31st at 8:30 a.m.

    WHY: TCSA is supporting significant reforms to Texas charter school law including: increased facility funding for charter schools; lifting the cap on charter schools and allowing effective charters to replicate; sharing facilities with traditional public schools; and including a growth measure in the state accountability system.

    AGENDA: I.             Highlight key issues in SB 1830

    II.            Discuss new data on Texas charter school policy, in particular the recent UT Institute for Public School Initiatives Report, “An Analysis of Gaps in Funding for Charter Schools and Traditional Districts

    III.           Q&A with Senator Patrick and David Dunn


    Posted in Charter Schools | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Humble ISD Legislative Committee, March 9, 2009 Meeting Summary

    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:

    • 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.

    Contact Legislators!

    Posted in financing, texas education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Attending a Legislative Summit

    Posted by Texas Education on October 17, 2008

    I will be attending an Education Summit tomorrow. This is a local forum so that prior to the legislative session, state lawmakers representing our area will have the opportunity to articulate their responses to issues and to field questions from business leaders, board members, superintendents and other educators in a effort to promote legislative transparency. Sen. Dan Patrick, Rep. Rob Eisler and Rep. Scott Hochberg have been invited to address the audience and a panel of legislators, moderated by KHOU Reporter Wendell Edwards, will discuss business and education challenges as they relate to the upcoming legislative session.

    I will post an update here with my findings. Thanks for all the support!

    Posted in leadership, texas education | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Plan uses sales-tax hike to pay for schools

    Posted by Texas Education on July 9, 2008

    More news out of Austin. The Elpaso Times Brandi Grissom comments from the Austin Bureau. Dan Patrick, who has been very vocal on this subject,

    “We need to go back to square one,” said state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

    Patrick and other conservatives propose abolishing school property taxes, starting over on Texas’ much-maligned new business tax and increasing and expanding the sales tax. The sales tax, they say, would be a more fair and more transparent tax for Texans. Proponents say their plan would provide a much simpler way to raise and distribute the $30 billion Texas pays for public schools each year.

    But it’s a plan critics call unworkable and unfair, especially for the middle class and working poor in communities such as El Paso. Critics also say the plan could hurt education.

    Sounds like a lot of bickering going on in Austin.

    In 2006, facing a court order to fix an unconstitutional school finance system, Texas legislators cut school property tax rates from $1.50 per $100 of property to $1. To replace those funds, they implemented a new business tax and increased cigarette taxes to help pay for public education.

    While school tax rates fell, home appraisals increased, and some school districts asked voters to raise their rates so property owners across the state have seen little relief in their tax bills.

    They are not telling us anything we didn’t already know.

    “I’ve never been so frustrated with the government’s just complete appetite to raise fees and raise taxes at every single juncture,” said Michael Norwich, who owns 10 Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in El Paso. He used to pay $3,000 to $4,000 per year in business taxes. This year, his bill was $25,000.

    This is what is sad, I love Jack-in-the-Box! But seriously,

    The tax burden is crushing homeowners and businesses, Patrick said.

    “The only way out is to move to broad-based consumption tax that is fair to everyone,” he said.

    When they come back to Austin in January 2009, Patrick said lawmakers first should scrub the budget, eliminating wasteful, fraudulent or unnecessary spending.

    Then, he said, lawmakers should nix most of the school property tax and fund schools using the savings and a sales tax that is assessed to more items and at a slightly higher rate than the current state and local tax of 8.25 cents.

    The third step, Patrick said, would be designing a new, business tax that is more fair.

    Here, here!! You go Dan!

    But, if only we can get those elected that might actually do something…ummm….

    Posted in In-the-news, leadership, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »