House adopts budget with TCTA-supported amendment on federal funds for schools

The budget bill has now passed both chambers. The House approved its version late Thursday, adopting 146 amendments to the bill. A successful amendment that TCTA helped draft and promote would require timely distribution of the billions of dollars designated for Texas public schools and ensure that funds are used to supplement, not supplant, state funds. TCTA appreciates the support of the House on this important issue.

The budget now heads to a conference committee to negotiate the final version of the bill that must be passed by both chambers before the session ends. Many House amendments are likely to be removed during this process.

More than 50 education-related bills have passed the House or Senate, putting them halfway through the legislative process with about a month remaining in the session. These bills cover a variety of topics including funding, employee benefits, curriculum, special education, certification/training, health/safety, charter schools, student issues and more. Click here for brief summaries.

TCTA successfully initiated an amendment by state Rep. Chris Turner to the HB 3 clean up bill to protect teacher salary increases. The amendment would ensure that an employee who received a salary increase in 2019-20 would be entitled to at least that same compensation for as long as the employee works for the same district.

In other action this week:

Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol.
TeachersCan initiative funding DonorsChoose projects in Texas

To thank Texas teachers for their unwavering commitment to students, TeachersCan is partnering with DonorsChoose to fund up to $1.5 million worth of classroom projects for educators across Texas. A fundraising campaign kicks off April 26 and ends May 4 on National Teacher Appreciation Day with a #TeachersCan-A-Thon. To be considered for funding, teachers must create and submit their classroom wish list (it takes about 20 minutes) by Monday, April 26, at DonorsChoose.org/teachers. For more information, click here.
Texas gets federal funds to help homeless students in pandemic

The U.S. Department of Education is sending Texas more than $81.3 million to help schools identify and support students experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first $20.3 million installment is being sent this month, according to a USDE news release. Click here for more information.

In other pandemic-related news this week:
  • All 13 Texas Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter on Monday to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona condemning Gov. Greg Abbott for not releasing federal stimulus funding intended for public education.
  • Tuloso-Midway ISD is the latest district to end remote learning. With COVID-19 cases declining, 80% of district staff vaccinated and 70% of students already back on campus, the other 30% of students will report Monday to close out the 2020-21 school year in person.
Coach accused of improper relationships with gymnasts

A high school gymnastics coach was accused of having an improper relationship with a student. The coach denied the allegation and wrote a statement in which he discussed his interactions with the accuser and another student. The district began an investigation during which the coach admitted to having a sexual relationship with two students and a "kissing relationship" with a third student. He was charged and convicted of crimes related to his sexual relationships with two of the students. The coach appealed, claiming that his conviction should be overturned because his confession was made to a school district investigator and not police. Click here to read more.
Early voting underway in May 1 school board, bond elections

Early voting ends Tuesday in the May 1 municipal elections. Many Texas school districts have board seats and bond issues on the ballot. Check with your county elections office or local media to see what's on the ballot and find polling places. 
Teachers can apply to serve as AP readers this summer

The College Board is accepting applications from educators to read and score AP exams in June in all subject areas. Applicants must be AP course authorized and currently teaching. Selected readers will receive continuing professional education credit hours and be compensated. All work will take place remotely this summer. Click here for more information or to apply.

The College Board also offers summer institutes to help educators strengthen their teaching of AP courses. Participants earn CPE credit hours and TEA offers reimbursement to districts to offset costs. Click here to learn more about the summer institutes. Click here for more on reimbursement.
TCTA board member selected for SBEC library standards committee

TCTA Executive Board member Cristal Isaacks of Levelland has been selected to serve on the State Board for Educator Certification's School Librarian Standards Advisory Committee. Committee members will help SBEC with an upcoming review of certificate requirements.
  • April 24-26 is the state's tax-free holiday for emergency preparation supplies. Click here for details.
  • The State Board for Educator Certification meets April 30.
  • Voting ends May 5 in the TRS election for the Public School District Employee position on the TRS Board of Trustees.
  • Register now for your chance to win cash during H-E-B's Virtual Tribute to Teachers on May 8.
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