SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE PASSES NEW SCHOOL REFORM BILL
A new plan that would increase funding to public education, give teachers a pay raise and pay for new textbooks for students was approved by the Senate Education Committee today. "This bill represents the best priorities of the Senate," said Education Chair Florence Shapiro. The Senate took the lead on the school reform issue following the defeat of the House's tax and reform plans in late July.
Senate Bill 8, by Shapiro, would add $2.8 billion to the state school budget over the '05-'06 biennium, and mandate that a certain portion, about 65 percent, of education dollars be spent on classroom instruction. The bill would increase annual teacher pay by an average of $3000 per teacher, and would allow teachers to set up a tax free healthcare fund. Teachers whose age plus years of service exceed 80 would be eligible for up to $4000 in additional yearly pay.
Not in the bill are some of the more controversial provisions present in House Bill 2. November elections for school board trustees and a mandatory start date are out, as well as expanded end of course exams, and a cap on recapture from weathier districts.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said today that the Senate will likely take up SB 8 on the floor early next week.