School finance integral to Texas legislative session

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March 28, 2019
If you haven’t been paying attention to the chamber’s legislative alerts, you might have missed that it’s heavy on school finance reform references. Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone updated the chamber’s board last Wednesday about what she’s seeing in Austin and RISD’s hopes for this legislative session.

The traditional ‘Robin Hood’ system of recapture funds is being debated. (Read more about the Robin Hood system in the Texas Tribune.) Dr. Stone said that if RISD doesn’t have to participate in the past system, they wouldn’t have to pay $6 billion.

The House Bill 3 proposes a 17 percent increase in per student allotment, which would mean an additional $500 per student.

RISD already works their goals 3-5 years in advance and are emphasizing early literacy and post secondary readiness. One area RISD sees a need is in full day pre-kindergarten. Many of their students’ parents need full-day school. Currently RISD is providing for 800 students, but see that 1200 need the service, or being free-lunch qualified. Currently, 56 percent of RISD are classified as being low-income students.

Teacher pay has been part of the pay, though provisions of a mandated $5K pay raise for all teachers and a merit-based raise (which had the danger of being determined by STARR test scores, further stressing students). Dr. Stone has a high interest in being competitive in the pay they give teachers, particularly in the area of special-education teachers, but wants to remain locally strategic and making sure that student needs are being taken care of. Read a story in Community Impact for more detail on this topic.

One RISD success story that Dr. Stone referenced Carolyn Bukhair Elementary, where teachers with a track record of growing students were incentivized by being given a raise of $10K. Read more in this fascinating editorial in the Dallas Morning News.
 
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