The Senate passed SB 1 (relating to the establishment of an education savings account program) and SB 2 (relating to school finance) this week. Both bills as amended will now move on to the House for further consideration. Bills not on the Governor’s call are subject to a point of order. Governor Abbott said he would add teacher pay and school finance to the call once education savings accounts are passed.

The Senate passed SB 1 (Creighton) Relating to the establishment of an education savings account program.

As filed the bill would (see below for adopted amendments for changes to this list):

  • Create an $8k per student, per year education savings account program
  • $500m of GR will go through the Comptroller for administering the program
  • Funds could only be used for an accredited private school tuition; after funds are used, any leftover funds can be used for certain expenses
  • Has prioritization framework if applications exceed available funding:
    • 40% of program funds prioritized for students who qualify free and reduced lunch
    • 30% of program funds prioritized to students with parents 185% and 500% of the federal poverty level
    • 20% of program funds prioritized for students with a disability
    • 10% remaining funds are available for remaining students; kicks in if there are any spots remaining

The following amendments on the bill were adopted:

  • FA 1 Creighton – Definitions for parent & program participants
  • FA 2 Creighton – Fraud and enforcement provisions enhancements
  • FA 3 Creighton – Allows comptroller to sign contract with Certified Education Assitance Organization (EAO) for a portion of the EAO duties rather than allow all, further clarification on the EAO duties and relationship; TEA can receive assessment and performance information so Comptroller can provide info to Lege
  • FA 4 Creighton – Allows comptroller to advertise the program and provides comptroller with additional tools for enforcing the rules
  • FA 5 Creighton – Allows homeschool students to participate in the ESA in final tier of eligible students, limits amount to $1k/year; clarifies that Pre-K students are eligible
  • FA 6 Gutierrez – Restricts state officeholders and lawmakers from applying for ESA
  • FA 8 – Requires transparency in lottery process
  • FA 10 Creighton/LaMantia – ESAs cannot be used at schools outside the state
  • FA 17 Creighton – data will be collected on who is awarded the application (clarification: not on who accepts the application)
  • *FA 22 Perry – FA 12 as amended with clarification language
    • FA 23 Springer – clarifies “net loss” language
    • provides hold harmless funding for districts with fewer than 5k students who experience students leaving due to program ($1ok per child)

The following amendments offered on the bill failed or were withdrawn:

  • FA 7 Perry –  prioritizes students failing subjects by placing them in the 40% tier
  • FA 9 Perry – assessment amendment for public and private schools, looking at norm testing
  • FA 11 Perry – No more than 10% can go to online instruction; exemptions for nontraditional student, medical need, and ARD program
  • *FA 12 Perry – Compensation for children leaving rural ISD for ESA program
    • FA 13 Springer – calculation on “net loss” of students
    • Ultimately passed as FA 22
  • FA 14 Menendez – physical restraint usage
  • FA 15 Menendez – student to retain federally protected rights in special education
  • FA 16 Menendez – IEP from a public school follows student to private school
  • FA 18 LaMatia – requires publication on website the amount of per student spend on education and who provides instruction and curriculum
  • FA 19 Creighton – government interest for allowing Comptroller intervening
  • FA 20 Perry – addressing military student transfer in public schools to clean up issue from last session
  • FA 21 Johnson – using 1% of funding for community schools grant

The Senate also passed SB 2 (Creighton) Relating to a local optional teacher designation system implemented by a school district, a security officer employed by a school district, the basic allotment and guaranteed yield under the public school finance system, and certain allotments under the Foundation School Program; making an appropriation.

As filed the bill would:

  • Provides a pass-through pay increase through a new “teacher retention allotment”
    • $3k for a classroom teacher for districts with more than 5k students
    • $10k for a classroom teacher for districts with less than 5k students
  • Increases the Basic Allotment (BA) by $75 starting in 2025 and removes requirement to spend any particular percentage of increase on compensation
  • Increases the school safety allotment to $20 per ADA and $30k per campus
  • Increases salaries under Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) and adds new designation

The following amendments on the bill were adopted:

  • FA 1 Creighton – to expend the $500 million equally over the biennium
  • FA 2 Huffman – allows for teacher bonus to count towards TRS pension
  • FA 4 Nichols – removes language addressing guardians in safety standards
  • FA 12 Middleton – addresses extension of formula transition grant until 2025, cap at $65 million
    • FA 13 was a correcting amendment to FA 12
  • FA 14- addresses fiscal cliff if enrollment grows over 5k for teacher pay increase

The following amendments offered on the bill failed:

  • FA 3 Zaffirini – special education (SPED) commission recommendation: grant for staff
  • FA 5 Johnson – Index BA to inflation over a 5 year rolling average
  • FA 6 Hinojosa – funding on enrollment vs attendance based
  • FA 7 Eckhardt – increase BA to $7365, total cost estimated $14.5 billion
  • FA 8 Zaffirini – SPED commission recommendation: $2-4k bonus
  • FA 9 Gutierrez– raise safety allotment to $100, estimated cost $2.1 billion
  • FA 10 Zaffirini – SPED commission recommendation: transportation funding of 13 cents per mile
  • FA 11 Zaffirini – SPED commission recommendation: certification funding
  • FA 15 Johnson – funding for PTECH
  • FA 16 Blanco – withdrawn before discussion
  • FA 17 Zaffirini – SPED commission recommendation: evaluations