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Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Tommy Williams’

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

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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 »

    Humble ISD Legislative Committee – update 3/3/09

    Posted by Texas Education on March 4, 2009

    Below is a compilation of information the committee has put together for anyone interested in contacting any of our legislators, or writing letters to the editor of your local paper, or even major papers. Sorry, I did not update from our last meeting, but here are the results. Our next meeting is:fistmoney1

    Monday, March 9
    6:30 pm
    Administration Building – Board room

    Letter to Community Organizations, Local Media and Friends

    March 3, 2009

    Dear Humble ISD Residents and Business persons,

    We have a very serious situation facing every person who lives in the Humble Independent School District area today. Despite the school tax increase that was approved in November 2008, and $27 million in school budget cuts in recent years (including $9 million for 2008-09 alone), Humble ISD is still in serious financial trouble. Humble ISD will become insolvent within 18-24 months unless it receives additional state funding or makes cutbacks that will lower the standard of education we have come to expect and also further depress our home values.

    You may ask how this can be, given the budget cuts and increase in school taxes we have endured. The following is a summary of the issues causing this situation: State funding for education has been frozen at 2005 levels despite inflation.

    Humble ISD’s State Funding allocation amount (WADA)—currently $4,937 per student per school year—is well below the state average. Compare this with other districts that have over $6,000 per student and the difference amounts to thousands of dollars per classroom.

    Humble ISD does not receive any additional tax revenue from increased property values or new businesses that open in our fast-growing district.

    Because ours is a fast-growing school district (#24 in Texas out of 1000+), Humble ISD must benefit from local property tax revenue growth without an equivalent reduction is state aid.

    The bottom line is that Texas has a seriously flawed education funding system that needs to be overhauled. I am writing this letter to ask for your help in contacting your State Legislators to request a change to this outdated and inadequate State Education Funding system. Please try to do this by Friday, March 13th, 2009, which is an important deadline for the legislature.

    No matter what, though, it is critical that we express our concern as quickly as possible!

    We need increased state funding for Humble ISD and we need it NOW!

    Sincerely,
    Members of the District’s all-volunteer Legislative Committee and
    Other Concerned Residents of Humble ISD

    *For legislators’ contact information and a sample letter on the District’s website, click here*

    **For more sample letters to state legislators, see attached sample-letter-1 and sample-letter-2 and sample-letter-3**

    Suggested recipients (for phone, e-mail and/or letter) – and for more click  here:

    Rep. Joe Crabb
    1110 Kingwood Drive
    Suite 200
    Kingwood, Texas 77339
    281-359-1270 (phone)
    281-359-1272 (fax)
    joe.crabb@house.state.tx.us
    adrian.rocha@house.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
    philip.ivy@house.state.tx.us (Kingwood office)

    Sen. Tommy Williams
    P.O. Box 8069
    The Woodlands, Texas 77387-8069

    281-364-9426 (phone)
    281-364-9473 (fax)

    tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us
    janet.steinben@senate.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
    amanda.montagne@senate.state.tx.us

    Many thanks to Margaret Fraissinet for putting all this together!

    Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, funding, leadership, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

    Posted by Texas Education on February 16, 2009

    I read about most of the new assignments in the Chron last week. Sorry for not updating sooner. I am certainly pleased and have been hearing of more and more “interesting” appointments that we can be proud of and happy about:

    HOUSE COMMITTEES:
    By the numbers – There are 76 Republicans in the Texas House and 74 Democrats. There are 34 committees. Eighteen (18 ) are chaired by Republicans; 16 are Democrats. Fifteen chairmen are in that position for the first time in their legislative careers. There are more Democrat chairs this session, more African-American chairs (5) and Hispanic chairs (4) than two years ago, and the same number of women chairs (7). The number of urban chairs fell by two, while the number of rural chairs fell by four; that balance is now 23 urban, 11 rural. (Texas Weekly)

    Rep. Rob Eissler, (R) The Woodlands, returns to the chairmanship of Public Education.
    Rep. Jim Pitts, (R) Waxahachie, returns to the chairmanship of Appropriations after losing the chairmanship last session due to his failed attempt to unseat Tom Craddick.

    Over the next few days we will identify legislators to carry Texas PTA legislation in the House. We have been awaiting committee announcements before identifying authors for several bills.

    For a complete list of committee assignments, visit
    http://txpta.org/Legislative%20Articles/2009/February/House%20Committees%202.pdf

    TEXAS PTA DAY AT THE CAPITOL:
    February 26 is fast approaching and Texas PTA is excited to welcome several key legislators and statewide officeholders to the Centennial Rally at the Capitol. Chairman Jim Pitts, House Appropriations, Chairman Rob Eissler, House Public Education, Chairwoman Jane Nelson, Senate Health and Human Services, Commissioner Todd Staples, Agriculture Commission, Commissioner Larry Soward, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

    PRIORITY LEGISLATION:
    SB 61, Booster seat bill, has been referred to Senate Transportation. We expect a hearing in the next 2-3 weeks. We have met with key staff for each member of the committee and anticipate smooth sailing in committee.

    HB 5, statewide smoke-free bill, was referred to House State Affairs. Unfortunately the makeup of this committee is problematic for our issue. Over the next few days we will be working to develop a strategy to deal with this. In the meantime, we hope to move the Senate version of the bill, SB 544, first. It has been referred to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

    SB 144, sales tax expansion bill, has been referred to the Finance Committee in the Senate. This bill is not Texas PTA’s version of the bill. We are working with the author, Sen. Ellis (D) Houston, requesting a substitution of our bill language. In the meantime, we are beginning meetings next week to identify a House sponsor.

    HB 339, driver training program revision legislation that includes Texas PTA’s cell phone prohibition by driving teens, has not yet been referred to committee. This bill is carried by Rep. Larry Phillips (R) Sherman. Other bills that deal only with the cell phone use prohibition by driving teens, are expected to be filed in both the House and Senate in the next week to 10 days. Both the House and Senate drafts had to be resubmitted for corrections as they contained exemptions that were unacceptable. Rep. Jose Menendez (D) San Antonio, Sherman, and Sen. Tommy Williams (R) The Woodlands.

    LEGISLATIVE REPORTS:
    For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

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