Houston-area elected officials and their staff gathered at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center on Nov. 28 to receive an update from HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and hear the district’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Austin.
Lathan highlighted major initiatives launched in HISD for the 2018-2019 school year and shared information about academic successes. Attendees also received a budget update from Chief Financial Officer Rene Barajas. District staff and trustees also were in attendance to meet with local, state, and federal elected officials.
“We’re extremely grateful for the support of our elected officials here in Houston. Each office plays an important role in partnering with us to ensure the diverse needs of HISD students are met,” Lathan said. “Fortunately, we now see broad consensus across Texas that the Legislature must fix school finance by increasing its share of public education funding and removing the heavy burden on local property taxpayers.”
HISD trustees approved the district’s legislative agenda in November. Current state law requires property-wealthy school districts such as HISD to share a portion of their local property tax revenue with the state to fund public education, a process called recapture. The district’s estimated recapture payment to the state for the 2018-2019 school year is $274 million.
The 2019 Texas Legislative Session will be critical for HISD, and the district’s priorities encompass the following issues: reforming school finance and reducing recapture; improving school safety and security; and addressing accountability ratings and sanctions.
To advocate for the elimination or reduction of recapture, HISD recently activated a powerful coalition of Houston parents, educators, business and community leaders to visit Austin regularly and advance the message. This volunteer group is called the Houston Educational Advocacy Representatives (H.E.A.R).
“This year, voters across Texas sent a message on Election Day,” said Ashlea Turner, HISD’s Chief Governmental Relations and Strategy Officer. “The message was clear: The state Legislature must make public education its top priority in 2019. Did all state lawmakers hear it?”
The 86th Texas Legislature convenes for the 140-day regular session on Jan. 8. The session will adjourn on May 27. You can read HISD’s full legislative agenda for the 86th Texas legislature by clicking here.
Learn more about Texas state lawmakers and legislative issues impacting HISD by visiting the Houston ISD Legislative Center.