The 84th Legislative Session convenes Tuesday, Jan. 13, and Texas lawmakers will have tough decisions to make about school funding, accountability, school choice, and testing.
Superintendent Brian T. Woods said Northside ISD staff and Trustees will communicate regularly with Bexar County’s delegation of senators and representatives to make sure they have the information they need as they vote on legislation that affects students and schools.
“Over the next few months, legislators will pass laws that could have a dramatic and far-reaching impact on Texas public schools,” Woods said. “We will do everything we can to make sure they understand the repercussions of their decisions.”
Before each new Legislative Session, the NISD Board of Trustees traditionally adopts “legislative priorities” in the areas of finance, governance, assessment, and accountability. Here are Northside’s 2015 Legislative Priorities:
Outdated Funding Mechanisms
- Support legislation that would fund student enrollment growth and improve funding weights for at-risk and English language learners.
- Support legislation that updates outdated formulas elements like the cost-of-education index and the transportation allotment.
Growth Related Funding
- Support legislation that provides funding for a Fast Growth Adjustment.
- Support legislation that improves funding for facilities (Existing Debt Allotment & Instructional Facilities Allotment and New Instructional Facilities Allotment) to include a higher percentage of Texas students.
- Support legislation that eliminates the “50 cent test” that is used to evaluate new bond sales before the bonds are approved by the Attorney General.
- Support measures to maintain a defined benefit plan for the Teacher Retirement System.
- Support legislation that maintains funding to offset the increased cost of the newly required TRS contribution.
Restoration of Prior Cuts
- Support legislation that adequately funds the instructional materials allotment and connects the allotment to the State Board approved adoption cycle.
- Support legislation that reinstates the technology allotment that was cut in 82nd session.
- Support legislation that ties property value increases within a biennium to an increase in the basic allotment.
- Support legislation that amends the statutes that allow for continued reductions for commercial/industrial property holders to less than market value through tax valuation lawsuits.
- Support legislation that provides funding for full-day prekindergarten programs that includes resources for facilities.
- Support legislation that provides funds to support the implementation of House Bill 5 from the 83rd session to include advising students, professional development and course development.
- Support funding for the actual cost of providing any and all programs required in legislation, rules and/or regulations.
General Funding Priorities
- Support legislation that allows locally elected school boards to set maintenance and operations tax rates without voter approval.
- Support legislation that links state accountability standards and funding formulas.
- Oppose private school vouchers, tuition tax credits, or any private program funded with public tax dollars.
- Oppose any legislation that limits a district’s ability to maintain a healthy fund balance, penalizes healthy fund balances, or dictates the use of fund balances.
- Oppose the use of the Permanent School Fund to provide funding, credit enhancement, or financing for Charter School Facilities.
- Support legislation that allows locally elected boards to allow for unassigned epi pens in schools without the fear of individual liability for their good faith use in a life saving situation.
- Support legislation that maintains local control over decisions regarding teacher appraisal instruments.
- Support legislation that maintains that a school district is governed by a locally elected board of trustees.
- Support legislation that maintains local control over the length of the term of school board trustees and the date of the board elections.
- Use assessment results as a diagnostic tool to inform instructional decisions that support individual students rather than a high-stakes instrument for accountability purposes.
- Require alignment of higher education admissions requirements to the high school graduation requirements established by HB 5.
- Support legislation that increases support and the quality of existing state resources provided to campuses/districts that do not meet state standards and allows local districts to oversee the operation of all schools, including those labeled "low performing."
- Support legislation that increases from 60 to 120 the minimum number of days that a refugee/ asylee must be enrolled in a U.S. school before that enrollment year can count as "year one" in their progress toward meeting state testing standards.
- Support legislation that allows independent school districts to use accountability information to hold themselves accountable to their communities rather than a one-size-fits-all state mandate.
- Support legislation that aligns the commissioner process for expansion of existing charters to the charter authorization process.
- Support legislation that forces charter schools to serve a population of students similar to the area in which the school is located and to comply with the elements of TEC Chapter 37.
- Oppose the improper expansion of ballot language designed to create confusion at the ballot box for taxpayers.
- Hold open enrollment charter schools to the same standards for transparency that apply to other public schools.
Support legislation that requires any politically active organization to disclose their donors.
To express your support of these Legislative Priorities, contact the elected officials who represent Northside ISD in the Texas Legislature.
Texas State Representatives
To contact your State Representatives, direct your correspondence or calls to:
The Honorable (Full Name) Texas House of Representatives PO Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768-2910
Dear Representative __________,
Texas State Senators
To contact your State Senators, direct your correspondence or calls to:
The Honorable (Full Name) Texas Senate Capitol Station PO Box 12068 Austin, TX 78711
Dear Senator __________,