The Texas House of Representatives easily passed legislation last week that will revamp school finance in Texas.
The bill, House Bill 3, will spend $9 billion in Texas schools to boost student achievement, support teacher quality, reduce recapture and provide property tax relief.
State Rep. Ed Thompson, who represents Alvin and Manvel, voted in favor of the bill.
"I'm proud of the work the Texas House has done this session to address public education in this state," said Thompson. "Improving public education has been a top priority of mine since I was elected in 2012, and I'm honored to be a part of the solution. House Bill 3 is the result of years of research, and I'm looking forward to seeing this much needed reform come to fruition."
While the bill passed the state house with 149 votes, its future is still uncertain. The Texas Senate passed its own version of school finance legislation that includes $5,000 pay raises for all Texas teachers, something that was not included in the House version.
School finance reform was named a top priority for the Texas House this session and was declared an "emergency item" by Gov. Greg Abbott in his biennial State of the State address. Before school finance legislation can go to the governor for approval, the House and Senate must agree on the differences in their bills.
House Bill 3 is the first major rewrite of school finance laws undertaken without the threat of a court order, and it puts a stop to decades of patchwork fixes by creating a more equitable public education system.
Thompson was a co-author of the legislation. Following its approval, he joined Speaker Dennis Bonnen at a press conference where representatives applauded the legislation.
“I am so proud of Rep. Thompson for authoring this legislation and for getting the House one step closer to our goal of transforming the public education system for generations to come," said Bonnen. “House Bill 3 is one of the most historic and important pieces of legislation this state has seen in decades because it invests in our children, our teachers and our future workforce. This legislation devotes an unprecedented $9 billion to public education and property tax reduction, and we have Rep. Thompson to thank for driving it toward the finish line.”
According to a press release from Thompson, HB 3 would do the following:
• Invests in Texas students and teachers by adding approximately $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years;
• Empowers local school districts to put more money in their classrooms by raising the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, an $890 increase per student;
• Provides property tax reform by lowering school property tax rates by 4 cents statewide;
• Reduces recapture from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion for the biennium, a $3 billion or 38% reduction;
• Establishes an early reading program that funds full-day, high-quality Pre-K for low-income students, setting the right foundation for students to be able to read at grade level by third grade;
• Substantially raises the minimum teacher salary schedule and allocates an additional $140 million in funding for a teacher quality program, providing districts with the resources for recruiting and retaining teachers in the classroom;
• Enhances the yield on the "enrichment" pennies, allowing schools to earn and keep more money for property taxes levied above the standard Tier 1 tax rate;
• Creates a professional development grant program to train teachers in blended learning instruction so they can effectively combine e-learning and traditional classroom instruction;
• Dedicates more money for dual language immersion education, which has proven to be more effective in producing greater achievement levels for multilingual and native English-speaking students;
• Equips districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders;
• Establishes an extended-year program that allows districts to combat "summer slide" by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades Pre-K-5 during the summer months;
• Updates the transportation funding model from a burdensome linear density model to a simplified one dollar per mile reimbursement;
• Allocates resources to low-income students on a sliding scale to prioritize students with the highest needs and provides more funding to schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and generational poverty;
• Quadruples the amount allocated to fast-growth districts to build and equip new instructional facilities funding to $100 million per year;
• Expands career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education; and
• Establishes a grant program for districts to offer parents of economically disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in grades 3-8 access to additional services to help improve educational performance.