Texas legislators gearing up for 2019 session
Before the Texas Legislature convenes its 86th session on Jan. 8, many committees are wrapping up their interim charges and preparing to make recommendations.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee held a hearing to discuss relief from state mandates. The committee is charged with determining if any parts of the Texas Education Code need to be modified or abolished to remove unnecessary mandates, reduce or eliminate inefficiencies, focus on policies that improve student outcomes, and better utilize taxpayer resources.

On Friday, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance met to hear a report from its revenues working group. The commission faces a Dec. 31 deadline to report its findings and make recommendations to the governor.
School finance is expected to be a key issue in the 86th Texas Legislature.
Review ELAR materials and earn up to $3,500
Safal, in partnership with the Texas Education Agency, is seeking educators to participate in the instructional materials quality evaluation for English language arts and reading as reviewers. Classroom teachers are encouraged to apply by Dec. 3. Selected reviewers who complete all trainings and all reviews will earn $2,500. Team leads will earn $3,500.

SBOE increases technology fund, OKs long-range plan for education at November meeting
At its November meeting, the State Board of Education voted to increase the funding provided for school operations, instructional materials and technology to $2.212 billion in the 2020-2021 biennium, an increase of $172 million over its preliminary spending rate decision. This figure includes $55 million that the School Land Board agreed to send to the SBOE.

But, for the first time in the Permanent School Fund’s 160+ year history, the land board in August decided to bypass the SBOE and send funds only to the Available School Fund, which means $600 million in land board funds will be unavailable to help fund new textbooks and technology unless the legislature intervenes and adds ASF dollars to the technology fund.

In other action at the November meeting, SBOE members adopted a new long-range plan for public education to establish goals through 2030. ( Click here to read more about the final plan.) The board also gave unanimous approval to streamlined standards for social studies. ( Read more about them here.) The changes go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.
Parents lose appeals in dispute over special ed
A student received special education services from her school district due to her disabilities, which included seizures, ADHD, a speech impairment and impaired concentration. The student was also globally delayed with an IQ of 51. When she initially enrolled in school, she attended a campus outside of the attendance boundaries where she lived because her home campus did not have a life-skills program. Three years later, her home campus added a life-skills program and the student was transferred back.

After the student's new teacher resigned for medical reasons, the parents pulled the girl from the classroom and sent her to a private school, citing lack of supervision by a certified special education teacher. The parents sought a hearing at TEA, requesting that the district reimburse them for the private school tuition after failing to provide a free and adequate education. The hearing examiner ruled in favor of the district, so the parents appealed.

Proposed rule change would make UIL music 'evaluations' exempt from no pass, no play
A proposed amendment to a Texas Education Code chapter covering extracurricular activities would allow music students to participate in UIL choir and band contests even if they are failing a class.

In its rationale for the proposed change, TEA says UIL concert and sightreading evaluations are curricular and not competitions, since every participating school could, in theory, receive the highest rating possible. As such, TEA says these events should not be subject to passing grade requirements that govern other UIL contests. TEA is seeking public comment on the proposed change through Dec. 10.

TEA releases final FIRST ratings for 2017-18
The Texas Education Agency recently released its final financial accountability ratings for school districts and charters, with 99 percent earning a passing score in the 2017-18 school year.

The School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas is designed to encourage public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes. Initial FIRST ratings were released in August, but districts had a chance to appeal.

In the final ratings, nearly 83 percent of school districts and 71 percent of charters received a superior score. Four districts and eight charter programs received F ratings for substandard achievement.

  • Dec. 2 is the deadline for a member-at-large or student member to notify headquarters of your interest to be a delegate-at-large or student delegate during the 2019 Convention.
  • Local association presidents will receive their delegate counts/rebate information packets in early December.
  • End-of-course STAAR testing takes place Dec. 3-7.
  • The State Board for Educator Certification meets Dec. 7 in Austin.
  • The TRS Board of Trustees meets Dec. 13-14 in Austin.
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