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Education talks in Austin: Charter schools impact

From facilities funding to Pre-K enrollment, Texas lawmakers are busy hearing testimony related to education in Texas. The Texas House Public Education heard testimony on 20+ bills this week, many of them related to charter schools. You can click on the links provided below to read the entire bill, or just check out our recap of the highlights.

Bills related to Charter School Funding

Relating to the guarantee of charter district bonds by the permanent school fund. The bill would amend the Education Code related to the calculation of the capacity of the bond guarantee program. Provisions of the bill would apply the available capacity for charter schools to the total capacity of the bond guarantee program based on the number of students in charter schools. The bill was left pending.

Relating to funding for open enrollment charter schools. $150 million would come out of charters and back to traditional public schools. The director of the Charter School Association testified this bill would further exacerbate the gap by an additional $1300 per student and every charter school would suffer. Texas AFT testified in support saying charter schools get more state revenue in Houston than HISD does and HISD gets put in recapture. This is the first piece of legislation that would address that. Bill was left pending.

Bill would provide funding for an open-enrollment charter school based on the guarantee level of state and local funds provided to school districts through the existing debt allotment. There was public testimony both in support and against the bill. The bill was left pending.

This bill would create two new funding streams for charter schools including facilities funding to high performing charter schools. The bill was left pending.

Bills related to Charter School Facilities (Funding)

Relating to certain facilities transactions between school districts and charter schools. Would require the commissioner to adopt rules and procedures for identifying underutilized school district facilities to either sell or lease to open-enrollment charter schools. The bill was left pending.

Would provide charter holders with facilities funding equal to the number of students in ADA multiplied by the guaranteed level of state and local funds per student per cent of tax effort, multiplied by the state average interest and sinking tax rate imposed by school districts for the current year. The fiscal note lists an estimated cost of $195.3 million in fiscal year 2018 and $215.6 million in fiscal year 2019. Public testimony included both support and opposition to this bill, which was left pending.

Bills related to Pre-K

Relating to open-enrollment charter schools that provide only pre-K half day programs. The Texas Education Agency testified the fiscal note is $40 million based on the assumption some existing private pre-K providers would apply to become charters. TEA estimates 5,000 students in fiscal year 2018 would enroll in a charter under the provisions of the bill. The bill was left pending.​

Other notable bills with mentions of charter schools:

relating to the powers and duties of the commissioner of education regarding granting additional charters for open-enrollment charter schools.

Meeting recordings: This bill would require meetings of open-enrollment charter schools to be broadcasted online, recorded and made available online. The bill was left pending.

This bill relates to the ineligibility of certain persons affiliated with an open-enrollment charter school for election to or service on the State Board of Education or a school district board of trustees.​

We will continue to track the latest testimony in Austin and keep you up to date on how it may impact Charter Schools in Texas.


Date: 3/16

Traditional public schools receive $1,400 per student to maintain and update facilities each year, while charters get no facility funding support. Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposing to shrink those funding gaps.

Campbell’s Senate Bill 457 and House Bill 2337 both “seek to close the gap by $700,” Crane said. “Both bills and the governor’s budget seek to give charters $700 per student, per year,” KACU reports. Neither have been heard by their respective education committees.

Campbell also authored SB 601, which would exempt open-enrollment charter schools from certain municipal drainage requirements. SB 601 was left pending in committee on Wednesday.

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