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July 29, 2005     (512) 463-0300

From left to right: Lt. Governor Dewhurst, Senators West, Shapiro and  Van de Putte
From left to right: Lt. Governor Dewhurst, Senators West, Shapiro and Van de Putte announced the filing of a new Education Reform bill that will include more discretionary spending for districts.

SENATE HAS NEW PLAN FOR EDUCATION REFORM

The Chair of the Senate Education Committee announced Thursday that she will be filing a new education finance reform bill this week. Many observers wondered if this session would end after the House failed to pass both the reform and finance components of its education plan Tuesday, but with this new bill, the Senate will take the lead on the reform side of the issue. The Senate was prepared to take up its former plan, Senate Bill 2, on Thursday, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he was worried that there was support for what he called a "poison pill" amendment that would have removed nearly all of the reform measures in the bill, leaving only provisions for a teacher pay raise and textbook funding. Rather than see all of the accountability measures removed, Dewhurst said he preferred a new bill that better addressed the concerns of the Senate and the education community.

The new bill, by Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, will remove some of the more controversial provisions in SB 2, such as November school board elections and a uniform school start date, and will include more discretionary money for districts. It will have an increased pay raise for teachers, and will include accountability standards and additional oversight for charter schools. "We're going to go back to basics, you might say," Shapiro said, "back to listening to some of the things the members are probably going to be wanting. What I'm trying to do is craft a bill that can get the most support from the most members of the Education Committee and the Senate, and that means going back to basics."

The Education committee will take up the new bill at 10 a.m. on Monday, and Shapiro has encouraged superintendents, teachers, parents and other members of the education community to attend to provide suggestions and feedback on what a school reform package should include.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, August 1, at 1:30 p.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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