The 86th Legislative Session convenes Tuesday, Jan. 8, and Texas lawmakers will have tough decisions to make about finance, school choice, and assessment and accountability.
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, choice, and assessment and accountability. Here are Northside’s 2019 Legislative Priorities:
The Northside Independent School District Board of Trustees supports legislation that will provide a long-term solution to increase the state’s funding capacity for public education to provide sufficient flexibility to address the diverse needs of each individual school district, such as:
Outdated funding mechanisms
- Support legislation that would fund student enrollment growth and tie funding weights for economically disadvantaged, at-risk, special needs, and English language learners to the actual cost to educate the student.
- Support legislation that updates outdated formula elements like the cost-of-education index and the transportation allotment.
- Support legislation that adequately funds the Instructional Materials Allotment, recognizes the need for technology funding, and connects the allotment to the State Board approved adoption cycle.
- 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 additional and ongoing funding for the implementation of school safety measures with discretion at the local/district level.
- 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 pre-kindergarten programs that includes resources for facilities.
- Support funding for the actual cost of providing any and all programs required in legislation, rules and/or regulations, and by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
General Funding Priorities
- Support legislation that allows locally elected school boards to set maintenance and operations tax rates without separate voter approval.
- Support legislation that links state accountability standards to funding formulas.
- 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.
- Support measures to maintain a defined benefit plan for the Teacher Retirement System (TRS).
- Support legislation that maintains funding to offset the increased cost of the legislatively- mandated increases in TRS contributions.
School Choice/Charter Schools
- Support legislation that holds open enrollment charter schools and boards of charter schools to the same standards of transparency that apply to traditional public schools.
- Support legislation that aligns the commissioner process for expansion of existing open enrollment charter schools 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 private school vouchers, tuition tax credits, or any private program funded by public tax dollars.
- Oppose the use of the Permanent School Fund to provide funding, credit enhancement, or financing for charter school facilities.
- Support changes to accountability and transparency of charter schools including timely, well-advertised public hearing notices regarding charter expansion, reforming charter school wait lists, restructuring the application process through TEA, and limiting the approval of new charter schools based on proximity to traditional public schools.
Assessment and Accountability
- Use assessment results as a diagnostic tool to inform instructional decisions that support individual students rather than a high-stakes instrument for accountability purposes.
- Support legislation that repeals the “A-F” accountability system and replaces it with a system that is comprehensible, transparent, and mitigates for economically disadvantaged students.
- Support legislation that increases from 60 to 120 the minimum number of days 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 increases support and the quality of existing state resources provided to schools that do not meet state 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 mandate.
- Support legislation that aligns Texas with the U.S. Department of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations.
To stay informed on legislation during the 2019 Legislative Session, visit www.capitol.texas.gov.