Chairman Brad Buckley has filed House Bill 1, the House’s comprehensive legislation on school issues for the current special session.
Buckley heads both the House Public Education Committee and the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment. The latter is expected to be the committee that will consider HB 1 if and when it is scheduled for a hearing.
House leadership has stated that the bill will not be referred to a committee until Gov. Greg Abbott has expanded the special session agenda to include education issues such as school funding and teacher salaries.
The following is not a complete analysis, as it will take more time to fully review the 184-page bill. Key issues include:
- Provides a one-time $4,000 payment this year to full-time teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians ($2,000 to such personnel who work part time).
- Revises current law that ties increases in state funding to compensation increases.
- Creates a complicated minimum salary structure (also proposed in HB 100 from the regular session) based on ranges of years of experience (0-4, 5-9, 10+) and differentiating among teachers based on level of certification and level of Teacher Incentive Allotment designation. As examples, a teacher with less than five years experience who is uncertified and has no TIA designation has a minimum salary of $35,000, while a teacher with 10 or more years with a base certificate and with a TIA designation has a minimum salary of $63,000. The schedule maxes out at 10 years of experience.
- Removes the “monthly” salary structure so that minimum salaries are on an annual basis — raising concerns that districts could easily add required teacher workdays without increasing compensation.
- Includes various changes to the Teacher Incentive Allotment program that had previously been proposed in the regular session, including expanding to four categories (with a new, lowest-level “acknowledged” designation) and increasing the allotment amount for most designations.
- Increases the basic allotment from the current $6,160 to $6,190 in 2023-24, then to at least $6,500 in subsequent years.
- Increases the allotments for small and mid-sized districts.
- Includes increases in special education funding.
- Revises school safety funding, providing a minimum amount of funding per campus based on enrollment size (ranging from $50,000 for 500 or fewer students to $200,000 for campuses with more than 2,000 students).
- Includes a number of other adjustments, such as a “regional disaster insurance variation allotment” to assist districts with expenses related to property and casualty insurance.
- Creates an education savings account program.
- Includes home-schooled students and students already enrolled in private schools.
- The amount of the ESA/voucher is 75% of estimated statewide average per-student funding for public school students, except that home-schooled students would receive only $1,000.
- Limits voucher program enrollment to 25,000 students in 2024-25, with growth of up to an additional 25,000 students each of the following two years.
- If there are more applicants than available slots, first priority is given to children with a disability in low-income households, then to other children in low-income households.
- Students in the program must take applicable STAAR tests. Aggregated results will be included in an annual report along with other data related to the program.
- The program is authorized through Sep. 1, 2027, unless reauthorized by the legislature.
- Provides that districts and campuses will be rated on the same criteria and calculations as those used for the 2021-22 school year for the 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26 school years. Assessments will be scored using the same standards and calculations used during the 2021-22 school year.
- Creates a new Texas Commission on Assessment and Accountability which will recommend changes to the current system no later than Dec. 31, 2024.
- Prohibits the commissioner from assigning A-F ratings, domain-scaled scores or overall scaled scores for the 2022-23 school year but the commissioner may otherwise adopt rules for determining public school accountability for that year.
The bill includes many other proposals, several of which were included in unsuccessful legislation from the regular session. We will keep our members informed of any action on this and other education-related bills.