State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), chairman of the House Public Education Committee, recently filed House Bill (HB) 3, comprehensive legislation that fundamentally transforms the public school finance system in Texas.

HB 3 (also referred to as the “Texas Plan”) would invest $9 billion above enrollment growth and current law entitlement towards student achievement, teacher quality and property tax reform. It represents the first major rewrite of the state’s public school finance system undertaken without threat of a court order.

– HB 3 invests $9 billion in student achievement, teacher quality, property tax reform –

“This is transformative. This is going to make a difference. The steps laid out in HB 3 will inject nearly $9 billion into the system, devoting more state revenue than ever before to the education of our 5.4 million public school children in Texas. I am honored to present this legislation and look forward to working with the more than 80 house members who have already signed on to co-author this bill,” Huberty said.

More than half of the members of the Texas House stood in support of Huberty as he announced the filing of HB 3 in a bipartisan press conference held at the Capitol. House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and representatives Diego Bernal, Ken King, Alma Allen and Greg Bonnen joined Huberty in delivering remarks in support of HB 3 and outlining additional efforts to improve public education in Texas.

“I applaud Chairman Huberty for filing HB 3 and for getting the Texas House one step closer to passing transformational school finance reform. Texas children can no longer wait for action – the time is now,” said Bonnen. “Chairman Huberty has worked tirelessly to thoughtfully craft this legislation that is built upon years of research, data and testimony. I applaud his commitment to Texas students and teachers, and know that through HB 3, the unprecedented investments we’re making in classrooms will elevate Texas’ education system to be the envy of the world.”

Built upon years of research, data and testimony, HB 3:

- Invests in Texas students and teachers by adding approximately $9 billion in funding above enrollment growth and current law entitlement over the next two years;

- Empowers local school districts to put more money in their classrooms by raising the Basic Allotment from $5,140 to $6,030, an $890 increase per student;

- Provides property tax reform by lowering school property tax rates by 4 cents statewide;

- Reduces recapture from $7.7 billion to $4.7 billion for the biennium, a $3 billion or 38 percent reduction;

- Establishes an early reading program that funds full-day, high quality pre-K for low-income students, setting the right foundation for students to be able to read at grade level by third grade;

- Substantially raises the minimum teacher salary schedule and allocates an addition $140 million in funding for a teacher quality program, providing districts with the resources for recruiting and retaining teachers in the classroom;

- Enhances the yield on “enrichment” pennies, allowing schools to earn and keep more money for property taxes levied above the standard Tier 1 tax rate;

- Creates a professional development-grant program to train teachers in blended learning instruction so that they can effectively combine e-learning and traditional classroom instruction;

- Dedicates more money for dual language-immersion education, which has proven to be more effective in producing greater achievement levels for multilingual and native English-speaking students;

- Equips districts with the resources needed to identify and intervene at the earliest signs of student dyslexia and related disorders;

- Establishes an extended-year program that allows districts to combat “summer slide” by providing 30 days of half-day instruction for students in grades pre-K through fifth grade during the summer months;

- Updates the transportation-funding model from a burdensome linear-density model to a simplified $1 per mile reimbursement;

- Allocates resources to low-income students on a sliding scale (rather than an equal weight) to prioritize students with the highest needs and provides more funding to schools with higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and generational poverty;

- Quadruples the amount allocated to fast-growth districts to build and equip new instructional-facilities funding to $100 million per year;

- Expands career and technology education programs for students in grades 6-12 (previously grades 9-12), making students more skilled and better prepared for the workforce or post-secondary education; and

- Establishes a grant program for districts to offer parents of economically disadvantaged students with learning disabilities in grades 3-8 access to additional services to help improve educational performance.

To learn more, visit thetexasplan.com.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.