Critical moment at the capitol–urge your rep to vote for school funding

A critical moment for Texas public schools has arrived at the Capitol. The Texas House is scheduled to vote Friday, August 4, on legislation that would increase state aid to school districts significantly, making a big down payment on the long-term boost in state funding our schools desperately need. It is vital for this school-finance plan to gain the largest possible majority on the House floor. A strong supermajority vote in the House is essential to give the school-finance package maximum momentum heading into a difficult negotiation with the Senate.

Please send your e-letter to your state rep right away in support of the three bills in this school-finance package. This legislation could be voted on as early as Friday morning. Here for your preview is the text of the online letter you can send from our legislative-action website:

I urge you to support the school-finance package coming to the House floor on August 4. The bills deserving your strong support are HB 30, HB 21, and  HB 23.

HB 30 provides $1.9 billion in funding for the next two school years from the state’s huge Economic Stabilization Fund reserve (the so-called Rainy Day Fund). HB 30 underwrites new state commitments to increased school aid spelled out in HB 21.

HB 21 makes a desperately needed increase in state-guaranteed formula funding for school districts, averaging $210 per pupil (to $5,350 from $5,140). The bill makes a big down payment on the restoration of state funding–which has eroded dramatically in recent years, shrinking to just 31 percent of funding for school districts. By increasing state aid, HB 21 provides significant relief for districts subject to recapture, gives small districts a fairer shake, and gives hardship grants to districts facing the loss of expiring hold-harmless funding they have come to depend on. The legislation also eases the pressure on local property-tax payers, who have had to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of public education.

HB 21 also devotes new resources to English Language Learners, to students enrolled in career and tech courses, and to  students with dyslexia. The state’s strengthened commitment to students with disabilities is also embodied in HB 23, which channels new funding to the public schools to serve students with autism while fully protecting their rights to an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment–protection they would lose under any private-school voucher scheme.

Please give your vote and use your voice in strong support of HB 30, HB 21, and HB 23.