HB 1759 to Address School Finance

Chandra Villanueva

The Texas House is making a serious effort to address school finance this session, adding $3 billion through the budget passed last week.

House Public Education Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock has laid out HB 1759, which has a number of good aspects, among them increasing the basic allotment. This will benefit all districts, and the bill fixes some inefficiencies in the system.

However, this legislation intentionally does not address one of the main concerns raised by District Court Judge John Dietz in his 2014 ruling on the inadequacy of the school finance system – making suitable provisions for economically disadvantaged and English language learner students. The judge found aspects of the current system that direct additional funding for special populations to be arbitrary, and as a result, it fails to meet the education needs of economically disadvantaged and English language learner students. This legislation does not address those problems, nor does it call for a study to identify the best methods for appropriately allocating funding.

Currently, 60 percent of Texas school children are economically disadvantaged. In the past ten years the number of economically disadvantaged students has grown at twice the rate of overall student growth. The number of students with limited English proficiency is also growing—currently at 17 percent—and the number of English language learner students has grown by 37 percent over the last ten years.

Texas is changing and becoming increasingly more expensive to educate, and we can’t afford to ignore these issues any longer. While HB 1759 wisely increases the basic allotment, it is also vital to address funding for economically disadvantaged and English language learners in any changes to the school finance system.

Comments
One Response to “HB 1759 to Address School Finance”
  1. Judy Hundley says:

    I am retired after 30 years in education. I am now a T-STEM coach, coaching principals in T-STEM schools, designated by TEA. I applaud your efforts to equalize the money for our students. However, there are so many other variables in this that should be addressed as well.

    If the leadership is not strong, knowledgeable, and willing to work the hours required to raise the school and the education for these children, then the money is thrown away.

    If the schools boards continue to elect Superintendents who are not strong because the board did not understand education, then the children will suffer again.

    Then finally, if all of us do not recognize how far Texas has come in education with accountability, there will be no understanding of how this “money” should be spent for the future as we carry the heavy burden of children coming in to us, below level in reading and math. Only Texas schools have opened our arms to these children as the nation argues about solutions that are unrealistic. All of this is said simply because it is not easy to “address school finance.” I hope that this group will be able to stay away from a partisan approach where children are concerned.

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