CoSN CTO Clinic
New Rules: 78th Legislature (3rd Special Session)
by Raymond Hartfield
Plano, TX
28 June 2006

Political sound bites
– Governor and legislative leaders
– “Historic victory was achieved”
– property tax relief (1/3 reduction)
– teacher pay increase ($2,500 per year)
– Education reform
o 4 years of science to graduate high school with next year’s freshmen class (2008) – this is an increase from 2 years of required science
o school starts no earlier than last week in August
o teacher performance incentives (a local committee will decide which CLASSROOM TEACHERS will receive these dollars)
– tie economic growth to further property tax cuts (saying increased equity across the board: we raised the equity funding)
– increased equity
– put $1.45 billion into schools
– offer meaningful board tax levy discretion
– more local control (local control has been redefined)

Pressure to change this calendar date: is to eventually move the start date after Labor Day because of tourism: more taxes are generated by Slidderbahn, Six Flags, Fiesta Texas, etc.
– millions and millions of dollars are generated there
– if you are around the capitol, you know this is about tourism (but people say things like “we’ll save money on electricity if we delay”)

Other side: Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn
– $23 billion hot check: over next 5 years
– meager teacher pay increase (teachers not treated fairly, should get $4000 / year or more)
– you can go to her website and see what your tax reduction is going to be
– Meager property tax relief that will evaportate over time (tax payers look at tax bills, politicians look at tax levys)
– Pushes problems just past November elections

Old harmless – revenue target
– district “target” revenue
– Greater of 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 revenue per WADA
– Plus $2500 per teacher
– Plus $275 per high school ADA
– Each district receives $500 for FT and $250 for PT non-teaching employees

HB1 – Subtle details
– reforms (districts pay for these, must be budget items or budget amendments)
– electronic student record system by 2007-2008 (data interoperability for student records that can be transferred within 48 hours of an electronic request)
– data format is not yet defined, look careful at PEIMS data structure
– they are not going to do something that breaks PEIMS
– More authority for the Commissioner
o Appoint monitors, conservators
o Appoint board of managers for the district if it fails F.I.R.S.T. or Full Accreditation
o 2 years later can close a district for failure to improve
o Appoint Technical Assistance Teams for Campuses ACCEPTABLE NOW but projected for a RATING DROP
– All this is in an operations perspective, not focused on instruction at all

Now on academics
– authority for the commissioner
– campus rated unacceptable for 2 years MUST BE “RECONSTITUTED” and work with an intervention
– closure or alternative management if commissioner decides
– “reconstituted” not defined but we know it sounds bad!

More authority
– commissioner can order hiring of a professional to address financial, testing, data quality, program or governance deficiency
– district must propose budget summary on the internet
– commissioner to publish spending targets based on similar districts of demographics and SES (categories for transportation, extra curriculuar, IT costs, etc)
o 65% rule guideline
o if you don’t meet them, you must publish a resolution to explain why not

This is all about transparency of expenditures
– if districts choose to have higher service levels, this will challenge those value decisions
– only hope is amortizing costs for assets, or look at subscription services instead of purchasing

Other reforms
– measure learning gains on state tests
– set expected improvement for each student and report actual compared to expected (2007-2008)
– vertical teams (HS and College) to align curriculum and other supports
– crate a measure of progress toward college success
– success measured: set out for 2 year certification, 4 year degree, all targeted to get student to declare their intentions for post-high school education
– Four levels of accreditation: Accredited, Warned, Probation, Unaccredited

Every high school student must have:
– 4 years of science, math, English, social studies
– (RHSP/DAP)
– should now look at virtual math courses to augment what you’re doing F2F, and that is what
– battle over stipends for teachers over these highly sought after positions
– SHALL HAVE: Opportunity to earn 12 semester hours of college coursework during high school (not a MAY) – this could be really hard for rural schools, the only way for many to do this will be via distance learning to assure concurrent/dual credit
– Optional flexible school day for at-risk in grades 9-12
– Everything is vectoring to a single set of requirements

MY THOUGHT: THIS IS RIDICULOS! WHY DOES THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE CONTINUE TO OPERATE UNDER THE ASSUMPTION THAT ALL KIDS NEED TO HAVE THE SAME EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE TO PREPARE THEM FOR THEIR FUTURES? THIS IS SUCH A TECHNOCRATIC POLICY AND VISION, APPROPRIATE MORE FOR AN INDUSTRIAL AGE. WHERE IS THE DYNAMISM? IT IS NOT HERE IN THIS LEGISLATION! ?

Have conditional certifications now if you come from industry, and you go above the radar screen and get into the classroom and get your certification on an alternative path

State funded teacher pay increase: not apply to IT staff

Start date change begins in 2007

Local control?
– does local control mean control by the elected board of trustees?
– Does local control mean control by the voters? (this is how it was redefined in this last session. Of $1.50 you could tax, this has been reduced to $1.30. Can have up to 4 pennies of local tax levy without going to the voters, and another 2 pennies but that has to go to the voters. Next year the base levy is being lowered to .667 of what you were last year with M&O.
– So where is local control 4 years out?!?!

Are 22 amendments currently staged for consideration in January 2007
Legislative fixes for legislation passed: May 2006
– reverse the drop in resources per student?
– Put brakes on state support for facilities?
– Put the brakes on property tax increases
– Appraisal caps?
– Exemptions? Higher homestead exemption, over 65 property tax relief
– More limits on local M&O property tax rates?

Summary
– all legislative attention on M&O, not Capital (INS, debt retirement)
– expect more “reform” designed to direct more resources on the classroom
o may not include technology
o will likely include virtual instruction (more virtual instruction driven to students in the home- US Family Literacy Program, lots of corporate responses to this, providing tools but maybe not the curriculum that must be TAKS aligned)
o will likely include linking curriculum between grades 12 and 13
o stronger student performance metrics
More
– expect more intervention for low-performance schools
– expect more school and distrticts to receive “negative” accreditation ratings
– expect more scrutiny on how school districts spend tax dollars
– more elections
– more emphasis on core academics and less on extracurricular (excluding athletics)
– more emphasis on Pre-AP/AP and College Level curriculum
– 4 years of math to accompany the current 4 years of science, English and social studies
– strong legislative push for appraisal caps

Shapiro is still a strong advocate of virtual curriculum

HB4 issues came up in 2nd legislative session but didn’t make it to the floor, 3rd session was just about finance so it didn’t come up

We are now in a messy hybrid of national and local control era

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