House Interim Committee on Public Education
Monitor the implementation and effects of the recodification of
the Education Code by the 74th Legislature.
4 Examine the
tax structure for public school districts. In 1995-96, according
to the unaudited actual tax rates reported by school districts
to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), 404 Texas public school districts
had tax rates exceeding $1.40 when measured using the formula
for state funding; 217 of these districts had a tax effort at
or above $1.50. The maintenance and operation (M&O) tax for
each district is capped at $1.50. In 1995-96, 178 districts had
adopted M&O tax rates exceeding $1.40, and 63 of those districts
had reached $1.50.
Clearly define the power that
the board of trustees of a school district have in determining
admissions policies, especially those policies designed "to
accommodate various circumstantial situations."
Identify needs and remedy
problems that may arise as charter school programs start up.
Clarify Chapter 29G, S.B.
1, 74th Legislature, relating to the Public Education Grant Program
and possibly provide financial incentives to school districts
accepting students transferring under this program in order to
meet the purposes of the program.
Review and amend principal
performance incentive provisions (Section 21.357, S.B. 1, 74th
Legislature) in order to alleviate the outside pressures and resentment
principals receive when accepting a financial reward for a school's
performance, particularly on the TAAS test.
Clarify safe schools provisions
in Chapter 37, S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, to clarify expulsion,
funding, service, and transportation issues of alternative education
programs and juvenile justice alternative education programs.
Monitor the merits and abuses
of the school district teaching permit program.
Clarify provisions relating
to the power and responsibility of district-level and site-based
decision teams, and clearly state whether the team meetings are
subject to the Open Meetings Act.
Clarify language in Sections
28.021 and 29.082, S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, to close loopholes
that may allow student advancement through social promotion, rather
than by way of academic proficiency.
Clarify the State Board of
Education's (SBOE) role in textbook adoption to determine whether
it may reject prospective textbooks based on the appropriateness
of the content.
Examine and possibly revise
transportation provisions in S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, relating
to school bus safety standards and driver qualifications as they
pertain to passenger vehicles.
Determine whether a school
district has the right to videotape activities not part of cocurricular
activities, extracurricular activities, or activities related
to classroom instruction, but are important to the district, such
as filming the first day of class.
Study the possibility of providing incentive pay to teachers in
inner-city and low-performing districts.
The House Committee on Public
Education identified a need for such an incentive to lure teachers
to small and remote school districts, as well as inner-city and
low-performing districts. However, the committee acknowledged
the difficulty in determining the nature and type of incentive
to provide because it is unclear what effect the new salary formula
in Section 21.402, S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, will have this biennium.
The committee did not make a recommendation, but did state that
as projections for the new salary schedule are developed, it may
be able to determine if funds are available to provide the incentive.
Review the accuracy of the key accountability and reporting systems
used by state leaders to assess and assure school performance.
The committee will continue
to study this issue further due to the significant discrepancies
between the State Auditor's Office (SAO) report on TEA's financial
and performance accountability systems and TEA's response. The
committee will monitor TEA's response to the SAO report and will
look for cooperation between the two agencies in resolving future
Assess the extent to which authority for key decisions is devolving
to the local level and the extent to which policy-makers are exercising
options to innovate.
The committee profiled innovative
programs around the state that were developed as a result of the
increased local power granted to school districts through S.B.
1, 74th Legislature.
Conduct active oversight of agencies under the committee's jurisdiction.
TEA reported to the committee
that prior to the passage of S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, SBOE had
formed 551 rules while the commissioner of education had 39 additional
rules. This made a total of 590 rules overseeing public education
in Texas that were administered by TEA. As a result of the passage
of S.B. 1, the total number of SBOE rules has decreased by 55
percent from 551 to 250, and the rules of commissioner of education
have increased from 39 to 124. In total, only 374 of the original
590 TEA rules exist today.
S.B. 1, 74th Legislature,
created the State Board of Educator Certification to oversee the
teaching profession, including establishing provisions for delivery
systems for certification and specialization, educator certification
requirements for each grade level and special education support
and instructional personnel, and requirements for paraprofessional
The Legislative Budget Board
has met with each of the chairmen of the education committees
of the House and Senate to discuss its study of the Foundation
School Program (FSP) for the legislature. The report, mandated
in S.B. 1, 74th Legislature, will primarily focus on the basic
allotment of FSP, the educational development index, and transportation