The Senate Education Committee met Wednesday to hear several bills, including a priority school safety proposal and a ban on 4-day school weeks. The bills were left pending; among those heard were:
- SB 2368 by Sen. Donna Campbell — Would prohibit school districts from moving to a 4-day school week. The senator expressed concerns about the move to 4-day weeks including academic losses, difficulties for parents, and the loss of access to school meals for needy students on the “off” day. Several witnesses agreed with the ban, but others — primarily districts that have already made the move — said that the 4-day week had been popular with both teachers and parents.
- SB 11 by Sen. Robert Nichols — One of the Lt. Governor’s priority bills for the session, addresses school safety issues. The bill was developed after the Uvalde ISD tragedy and incorporates recommendations from the Senate’s interim study. It increases funding for the school safety allotment, with a minimum amount for $15,000 per campus that will benefit smaller districts whose per-student allotment has been insufficient to make needed safety enhancements. The bill increases TEA oversight of the Texas School Safety Center, and it would require districts to perform vulnerability assessments of their facilities. It also tightens up truancy limitations so that students would be referred to truancy courts after six unexcused absences in an eight-week period.
- SB 763 by Sen. Mayes Middleton — Would allow districts to hire chaplains to perform the functions of school counselors.
- SB 1720 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst — Ensures that an employee who reports a potential threat to a threat assessment team can opt to remain anonymous (except as needed for the district or law enforcement to investigate the threat).