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February 12, 2013 (512) 463-0300

EDUCATION PANEL CONSIDERS READINESS REFORM

(AUSTIN) — The Senate Education Committee took up a bill Tuesday that would change the current high school graduation plan system in an effort to add more flexibility for students after they graduate. Senate Bill 3, by Committee Chair Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, would do away with the current system of minimum, recommended and advanced high school programs. The bill would set up an alternate system that is intended to prepare students for either college or the workforce after high school.

Instead of the current three-path system, SB 3 would create the Foundation School Program, which would be the basic high school diploma, requiring four credits each in math, science, social studies and English. Students would be able to tailor their high school experience by seeking endorsements earned by taking additional credits in different subjects. The bill would create endorsements for business, arts and humanities, achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM courses), and distinguished achievement. Students could earn these endorsements by taking additional courses above the standards required for the Foundation diploma. To earn a STEM endorsement, for example, a student would need one additional credit in math, two in science, and one in fine arts or a career in technology program.

The bill was left pending before the committee.

The Texas Senate
Natural Resources Chair Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay lays out his plan to create a fund to hold money for water infrastructure development.

Also Tuesday, the Senate took a look at a plan to pay for the future water needs of the state. Leadership in both chambers as well as the Governor have said that the state's water supply is a top priority for the Legislature this session. Though the state began a regional approach to water planning in 1997, lawmakers have yet to come up with a mechanism to fund water infrastructure projects. Natural Resources Committee Chair Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay laid out a bill he hopes will change that. "Senate Bill 4 is the groundwork for, hopefully, finally getting the state water plan funded so that we can rest easy that our children and grandchildren will have the water they need and the Texas economy can continue to thrive," he said.

SB 4 would create the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT), a fund outside of the treasury that would be dedicated to water infrastructure improvements. SWIFT would be overseen by a newly-restructured Water Development Board, which would be pared back from six to three members. At least 10 percent of the money spent from SWIFT would have to go toward rural projects, and another 10 percent would have to go to reuse and conservation projects. SB 4 doesn't allocate any money to SWIFT; that money would have to come from the state budget. The bill was left pending before the committee.

The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, February 13, at 11 a.m.


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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