04.19.2017 — The House passed Chairman Dan Huberty’s school finance bill, CSHB 21, with a vote of 134-16 on Wednesday evening. After Huberty laid out the bill, Rep. Matt Schaefer attempted to end discussion with a point of order related to how the bill is funded, but it was overruled.
CSHB 21 does the following:
Commits $1.8 billion above enrollment growth
Moves toward a more simplified system
Adds greater equity by increasing the basic allotment
Includes a new weight for students with dyslexia at 0.1
Increases the bilingual weight from 0.1 to 0.11
Provides transitional grant funding for those districts impacted by the expiration of ASATR
Adopted amendments include:
Amendment #6 by Rep. John Raney is a cleanup amendment to correct an inconsistency in CSHB 21 language on the amount of the basic allotment.
Amendment #11 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez strikes language in the bill (“or a greater amount provided by appropriation”) that no longer applies due to the House’s adoption of the budget bill, SB 1, which caps the amount appropriated for the hardship grant to $200 million for the biennium.
Amendment #13 by Rep. Diego Bernal creates a $125 per student penalty (which exists in current law but that would be removed by CSHB 21’s elimination of the transportation allotment) for districts that fail or refuse to meet state safety standards for school buses.
Amendment #14 by Rep. Ed Thompson increases NIFA from $250 to $1,000 per student. The amendment has no fiscal note as not all funds appropriated for NIFA are traditionally used, so NIFA funds are available. An amendment to the amendment by Rep. Diego Bernal includes repurposed and some leased facilities in the definition of “new instructional facility” for NIFA eligibility.
Amendment #17 by Rep. Drew Darby eliminates the small school penalty. The basic allotment for districts with fewer than 1,600 students that span less than 300 square miles would be calculated using the same formula as that used for other districts with fewer than 1,600 students. $40 million from the funds allotted for the hardship grant would be used.
Amendment #18 by Rep. Stan Lambert requires that the commissioner of education conduct a study on the feasibility and potential demand for CTE courses during the summer. The amendment makes the requirement contingent on the commissioner receiving sufficient funds to pay for it and allows the commissioner to accept gifts, donations, or other contributions for this purpose. Two amendments to the amendment were adopted that expand the study.
Amendment #21 by Rep. Poncho Nevarez requires the commissioner of education to update the cost of education index during the 2016-17 school year. An amendment to the amendment by Chairman Dan Huberty eliminates language that would have required the updated index to be used with the 2017-18 school year.
Amendment #28 by Drew Springer adjusts funding for certain districts bordering the Red River and with an enrollment of less than 90 in certain circumstances.
Amendment #29 by Ken King prohibits special-purpose school districts operated by general academic teaching institutions from charging tuition if they receive state funding.
Amendment #33 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson would require TEA to submit to each Legislature a projection for equivalent equalized wealth level for the following biennium. An amendment to the amendment by Chairman Dan Huberty adds specifics related to the scope of the study.