Critical School Funding Legislation

Posted by Dr. Mark Henry on 4/25/2023

Dear CFISD Community,

With fewer than five weeks until the end of the 88th Texas Legislative Session, concern with the proposed legislation impacting public education funding is increasing significantly. We entered this legislative session with four critical priorities related to school finance:

  1. Increase the Basic Allotment (BA) by $1,000 and add an inflationary index
    • The Basic Allotment is how the legislature funds schools on a per-student basis. Currently, the allotment is $6,160 and has not been increased since 2019 (and has no inflationary factor). CSHB 100 is the current legislative vehicle for an increase in the BA and includes ONLY a $140 increase in the BA over the biennium (a $90 increase in 2023-24  and an additional $50 increase in 2024-25). A $90 increase to the Basic Allotment would yield approximately $13.1 million for CFISD in the 2023-24 fiscal year; and the additional $50 increase yields approximately $7.3 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year. CSHB 100 requires 50% of the increase in the BA to be used for an increase in compensation for teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses. CSHB 100 is significantly short of our request for a $1,000 increase in the BA, to offset inflationary costs and to provide a raise for all employees (a 1% raise costs approximately $9 million).

      In addition to the provisions outlined in CSHB 100 addressing employee compensation, SB 9 establishes the Teacher Retention Allotment for a one-time payment of $2,000 for teacher compensation for 2023-24. Currently, the bill does not address compensation for all other employees and has no provision for an ongoing funding source, resulting in district’s allocating the payment as a one-time bonus versus a permanent raise.
  2. Modify the adjustment in the Comptroller's property value assignment for the Local Optional Homestead Exemption (OHE) 
    • Both Chambers have prioritized providing property tax relief. We support the property tax relief priority; however, although the state is increasing its share of public education funding, these bills do NOT provide additional funding to school districts. Additionally, there is currently no bill or vehicle to address our priority for a modification in the adjustment in the Comptroller’s property value assignment for the OHE.
  3. Provide reimbursement for safety expenditures and increase the school safety allotment to $100
    • We continue to monitor three key bills addressing the Safety and Security Allotment:
      • CSSB 11 lacks an adequate increase in the current Safety and Security Allotment from $9.72 to $10. This amount does not come close to covering our current expenditures. The current allotment of $9.72 generates $1.04 million, but we spend over $43 million.
      • CSHB 3 includes an increase to $100 for the Safety and Security Allotment, which does address our priority.  However, the bill requires an armed security officer at each campus, which would significantly impact CFISD—59 additional officers, totaling over $4 million dollars.
      • CSHB 13 includes a $100 increase in the Safety and Security Allotment, and the committee substitute was improved by removing the restrictions on expenditures.  This bill does address our priority of an increase in the allotment to $100 and flexibility in the use of the funds.
  4. Oppose legislation that diverts funding from public to private or home schools
    • The Senate continues to support diverting funding from public school districts ($8,000 per participating student for Education Savings Accounts/vouchers for private schools in comparison to the $6,160 BA that public schools currently receive). 

In summary, if there are no drastic improvements in the key bills related to public education funding before the end of the session, CFISD will be faced with some extremely difficult budget decisions that will negatively impact district programs, students and employees.

If there was ever a time for a call to action, it is now. Please contact your local state representative and senator, and ask them to vote for legislation that significantly increases funding for public education and allows for flexibility in spending. This Who Represents Me? link reveals your legislators after you enter your address. This is a listing of representatives and senators in the CFISD community:

  • Rep. Sam Harless (Dist. 126) - 512-463-0496
  • Rep. Tom Oliverson (Dist. 130) - 512-463-0661
  • Rep. Mike Schofield (Dist. 132) - 512-463-0528
  • Rep. Jon Rosenthal (Dist. 135) - 512-463-0722
  • Rep. Lacey Hull (Dist. 138) - 512-463-0727
  • Rep. Jarvis Johnson (Dist. 139) - 512-463-0554
  • Rep. Penny Morales-Shaw (Dist. 148) - 512-463-0620
  • Sen. Paul Bettencourt (Dist. 9) - 512-463-0107
  • Sen. John Whitmire (Dist. 15) - 512-463-0115
  • Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (Dist. 18) - 512-463-0118

Thank you for your help during this critical time for public education.