Eanes ISD
Legislative Priorities

2017 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

School districts statewide value public education and the students they serve. Inherent to this regard is the role of demographics, geographic area, tax rates and community needs in maintaining local control and priorities. However unique respective legislative positions or challenges may be, the intent is to find solutions that are mutually beneficial and relevant without doing harm to the educators’ work and students’ learning. Most important is providing local districts with the flexibility and resources to remain innovative and technologically advanced.

The Eanes Independent School District hopes to facilitate a collaborative conversation among educators, legislators, stakeholders and relevant associations to provide students with the best possible education.


WE SUPPORT…

Balancing the state’s responsibility to fund education with respect for taxpayers’ local investment.

In 1993 when Texas enacted the “Robin Hood” law, 34 school districts paid $127 million to equalize funding among districts statewide. Now, 23 years and $20 billion later, 250 districts will pay $2 billion in recapture during the 2016-17 school year, with almost 200 more required to pay recapture if they increase their tax rates. Resident taxpayers are paying more as property values increase, but local school districts are not the beneficiaries of that investment. Rather, the state’s funding obligation for education is lessened by the increased burden for local school districts required to pay recapture.

Eanes Impact Example: Eanes ISD residents lose more to recapture ($82.9 million) than they keep ($72.4 million) to fund their own school district’s operating budget.

SOLUTION: Reduce the overreliance on recapturing local taxes to fund public education statewide.

Revising the Cost of Education Index (CEI) to reflect current adjustment metrics.

The CEI (according to the Texas Education Agency) “attempts to adjust [district costs] for varying economic conditions across the state.” The Texas Education Code states the CEI is used “to reflect the geographic variation in known resource costs and costs of education due to factors beyond the control of the school district.” However, these CEI adjustment figures have not been updated since 1991. In the 25 years since CEI figures were assigned to all school districts, the factors (such as teacher salaries in neighboring districts) reflecting “resource costs” have changed throughout the state. CEI is important to Chapter 42 districts, as it is part of the formula for Tier 1 allotments; and it is part of the formula for WADA (Weighted Average Daily Attendance), which determines Tier II funding. CEI is important to Chapter 41 districts because it impacts WADA which, in turn, impacts recapture.

Eanes Impact Example: Eanes ISD loses $170,000 for each 10-percent increment the CEI is understated – the equivalent of salaries for 3.1 teachers.

SOLUTION: Recalibrate the CEI to reflect current realities and costs.

Counting 100-percent of CEI in the formula for Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA).

While 100-percent of CEI is used in Tier I calculations, only 50-percent of CEI is incorporated in WADA calculations. WADA impacts Tier II funding for Chapter 42 districts and impacts recapture rates for Chapter 41 districts.

Eanes Impact Example: The imbalance in CEI calculations results in $1.7 million lost funding per year – the equivalent of 31.5 teachers.

SOLUTION: Apply the CEI consistently as both 100-percent for both Tier 1 and WADA calculations.

Adjusting state funding weights to match current costs of educating unique student populations.

The funding weights for unique student populations (special education, economically disadvantaged, bilingual, career and technical, gifted and talented) have not been updated since 1984, while the costs of educating these populations have changed dramatically in that time. Eanes ISD believes there should be an empirically-based link between these weighted figures and the cost to educate unique student groups. These weights affect Tier I allotments, which impact Chapter 42 districts. The weights also affect the formula for WADA, which determines Tier II funding for Chapter 42 districts and the recapture rates for Chapter 41 districts.

Eanes Impact Example: Eanes ISD annually loses $700,000 for each 10-percent increment the funding weights for these populations are understated – the equivalent of salaries for 13 teachers.

SOLUTION: Revise the weights to reflect current district costs and challenges of educating these unique student populations.

Allowing Chapter 41 districts to claim transportation allotments as a credit against recapture.

Every school district that transports students to and from school and extra-curricular activities incurs costs to do so. These expenses include school buses, maintenance, fuel and staff. While Chapter 42 districts receive a formula-based transportation allotment in Tier I funding, Chapter 41 districts do not receive funds for their transportation allotment. These costs are real and necessary.

Eanes Impact Example: Claiming transportation allotments as a credit against recapture would equate to $400,00 in annual savings – or enough to fund 7.4 teaching positions.

SOLUTION: Distribute these allocations fairly among all school districts that transport students.

WE OPPOSE…

Reducing funding for public schools as well as the ongoing drain of unfunded mandates.

One-third of Texas school districts still have per-student funding levels below those of the 2010-2011 school year, following the cuts to public education instituted in 2011. While some funding cuts have been restored, more than 300 districts still struggle to return per-student-funding to where it was six years ago, without taking rising inflation costs and student needs into account. Schools have already cut many programs that previously served students; they have increased class sizes, reduced staff and realized every possible efficiency.

Eanes Impact Example: The annual loss of $1.8 million due to funding cuts and unfunded mandates (not adjusted for inflation) would fund the salaries of 33.3 teachers.

SOLUTION: Avoid further cuts and place a moratorium on additional unfunded state mandates, which lessen available monies.

Diverting funding from public schools to privately run schools that are exempt from accountability.

The use of public money for private schools through vouchers, tax credits, taxpayer savings grants or similar programs violates the critically important principles of open government and accountability. Public schools (including most charters) must conduct their business transparently and are subject to open meetings regulations and open records requests. Public schools are also held to academic accountability standards measured by the standardized testing program. If public schools do not meet federal and state accountability standards, low-performing schools are identified and are subject to sanctions; if public charter schools do not meet these standards, they can be shut down. Public funds demand public scrutiny.

Eanes Impact Example: For every student who uses public funding for a private school education, Eanes ISD loses an additional $5,800 to recapture.

SOLUTION: Hold private schools that enroll publicly funded voucher students to open government laws and require them to participate in the state accountability system.

WE ALSO BELIEVE…

School districts need the latitude to provide students with an innovative and relevant education.

The Eanes Independent School District strives to provide students and teachers with diverse and applicable curricula. Instructional innovations are essential to all school districts in helping students become socially and emotionally secure, future-ready thinkers and contributors to the broader society. Eanes ISD applauds the Texas State Legislature for adopting and supporting unique initiatives in the Education Code, such as but not limited to “Districts of Innovation.” Public school districts and their stakeholders benefit from the autonomy to implement experiential practices and programs that help students discover their career and vocational passions – while balancing local control with legislative parameters. This flexibility is important in any school district’s efforts to remain progressive and relevant in providing students with the best possible education.

Eanes Impact Example: Eanes ISD engages the community to discuss local ideals and values that drive innovative instruction, such as a high school business incubator curriculum as well as advanced technical theater and robotics classes.

SOLUTION: Continue to support and allow space within the Education Code for local control to implement innovative practices and programs.

Powered by Finalsite