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Legislative session finished…for now!

Posted by Texas Education on June 4, 2009

Yes, yes you don’t have to tell me I have been lax in updating my blog! Just haven’t been up to it much. I guess I get tired of always being the bearer of bad news, pretty much anyway. I know I’m the one who chose to blog about texaseduation! So, I need to man up, as they say, or is it womanup? I’ve been twittering more, much more fun! Seems to be my niche also! Well, here is the poop and nothin’ but the poop!

A compromise school finance bill was passed (HB 3646), and it now awaits the Governor’s signature. The main components of this “school finance reform bill are:

Directs $1.9 billion of new money into public schools – this has been consistent with all versions of this bill.

Increases the basic allotment, guaranteed yield, and equalized wealth level, putting districts with low revenue targets back onto formula funding – we know enough now to determine that this provision only impacts the lowest WADA districts (about 350) districts in the state. We, (Humble ISD) along with about 70% of the districts in the state remain on a new total target revenue system, now frozen at the 2009 level of revenue.

Provides every district a minimum $120 per Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) increase – this is the amount of new state funding we will receive, and it means an approximately $4 million increase for us in each of the next two years.

Provides an across-the-board educator pay raise of the greater of $800/year or each educator’s share of $60/WADA for the district and includes speech-pathologists in the educator pay raise – the $60/WADA here is how our teacher salary increases for next year will need to be calculated. So effectively, our “new additional funding from the state” for operating budget is actually $2 million in each of the next years!

Establishes a permanent “roll-forward” for the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) program – this is a very good thing, but there was no increase in EDA funding.
Establishes a new program to guarantee bonds for new school construction – this will hopefully be very helpful to us as we begin to sell Bond 2008 bonds and pursue Bond 2008 needed projects.

Provides an additional $50 career/tech allotment for students in sequences leading to certification, and provides for funding of certification exam fees – we will realize some additional dollars here.

Provides funding for credit recovery classes for students – this too will get us a few more dollars.

So where are we with this now passed “school finance reform” legislation? W e are left with a system that did not improve our equity lot relative to WADA funding, and we will continue to have to confront deficit operating budgets over the next two years. So especially now, THANK YOU Humble ISD Community for passing the tax rate election this past year! That at least will keep us solvent through the next legislative session.

Humble ISD is  also now working with their legal counsel, as they assess whether or not to file suit against the state.

The legislature also passed a compromise Accountability bill. Unfortunately, it is going to take a few weeks to really decipher and understand how the new system will work, but it is very unfortunate, that this new legislation does not even come close to resembling what the Select Committee on Accountability recommended after a year of public hearings throughout the state!

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Legislative Watch

Posted by Texas Education on November 19, 2008

legislativewatchbutFrom Humble ISD’s website:

Texas legislators could begin pre-filing bills for the 81st Legislative Session Monday, and pre-file they did! As of Thursday, Nov. 13, more than 500 bills and resolutions were filed – many that will impact Texas public schools. The Texas Association of School Boards web site has excellent information about these bills on their web site.
In the coming weeks, TASB will write bill summaries of education-related bills and post them online, along with updates about what is happening at the Capitol; a regular accounting for all the important issues, events, and stories.

You can get involved now, by joining Humble ISD’s Legislative Committee is gearing up for the 2009 session. Call 281-641-8200 or email – first meeting is Dec. 2. Join Now!

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Shocking! Texas Legislature likely to address school finance again

Posted by Texas Education on November 17, 2008

I’ll believe it when I see it.

“School finance is always a legislative priority because it is a very complex issue that impacts most Texans,” said Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priority, an Austin-based think tank. “It may not be the dominant issue next year like it was three years ago, but it will definitely be a big issue.”

I’m a bit shocked, yes, that this is not a dominant issue. Well, I take that back, I should NOT be surprised. They, the Lege, certainly do not think this is an important issue, and based on the election results, I do not see things changing…much. This is getting very tiresome waiting and waiting and waiting for the state to pony up their share of funding our schools. I, for one, would like to see our kids prosper, flourish, and be successful. They can’t do that when we are always playing catch up, scratching for funding, working off budgets from 20 years ago (that’s just appalling.) Well, the people spoke, when they kept people like Joe Crabb, and David Bradley in office. I just can’t understand that. This is someone who has been characterized: “Bradley was just like a playground bully with anyone who disagreed with him. He was condescending and even turned his back on teachers who were speaking.” I did see where Crabb gave one of our local papers the time of day, finally. Oh, I guess if I were just elected to an office that I don’t do diddly squat, I’d say a little something to the people, eh? All I can say is OMG. Please tell me, how do people like him sleep at night? Knowing he’s done nothing to help our schools for the last 15 years?

I will never understand the people who vote for people like him.

Full story here.

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Humble ISD deals with growth

Posted by Texas Education on August 18, 2008

This particular article deals with the crux of the matter, what I have learned and what prompted me from the beginning to stress to students, teachers, parents, the community and especially those who will go to the polls in November and vote. Our schools are growing like they’ve never grown before, and we have a major web of funding mix, formulas, budgets, whether it be for now, 2008, or years past. Meaning, we (the state) are basing some of the funding on formulas and budgets from decades ago. Trying to bring everything into the 21st century on 20th century budgets. (I may be exaggerating, but you get my point.) Dr. Sconzo points out, again:

District leaders cut several programs and increased class sizes to make up $9 million worth of the deficit. However, the district will still have to go to voters to try to make up the remaining roughly $17 million that’s short.

A 13-cent operating tax increase proposal will likely come before voters in the November election, asking residents to pay for nearly 75 percent of that shortfall.

But some ask why the school is seeking money to balance its books while new schools are opening each year.

Superintendent Guy Sconzo said the funding mix that schools use has much to do with that.

Since the district’s operating budget is paid mainly through the state and new buildings are constructed through the funds taxpayer-approved bond levies, the school must draw from two different pots.

An important point to be made here:

“But Sconzo said one of the biggest challenges has been that Humble, and other districts, are growing faster than the state funding formula can keep pace with. So while the need for new schools continues as the student population rises, the school is left to make up shortfalls created by the growth.”

I only hope everyone gets involved, learns, understands the crisis we are experiencing with our schools and schools districts. Look around, Humble is not out there alone either. This is state wide, and it is all because the legislature has turned it’s back on funding our schools.

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Update on the Education Summit

Posted by Texas Education on August 4, 2008

My apologies for not updating more regularly here. Did get a well deserved ‘vacation,’ as was posted here earlier this week. Made it back all safe and sound, only to be confronted by T.S. Edouard. Thanks to my good friend Vernon, I have the latest update on the Summit.

Recently the TEA held an educational summit in Austin to address the problems with our educational system both short term and long term. The plan is to identify our school district problem state wide, then address these concerns with Austin when they comes back in session in 2009.  Give this a listen, some good information came out of this meeting. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Audio links for the education summit that was recently held by the TEA in Austin.

School Finance Summit, Tuesday, July 29, 2008 (Audio)

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