H.E.A.R. meets with state lawmakers in Austin to advocate for school finance reform

Members of the Houston Educational Advocacy Representatives (H.E.A.R.) on Monday, March 11, met with 27 state lawmakers in Austin to discuss the urgent need for meaningful school finance reform this legislative session.

H.E.A.R., the brainchild of Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, is a volunteer coalition of nearly 50 public education advocates tasked with educating lawmakers about HISD’s state and federal legislative priorities, especially school finance reform. H.E.A.R. met with members of the House Public Education and Appropriations Committees, Senate Education and Finance Committees and HISD’s state delegation.

“I was very encouraged by the conversations,” said Jennifer Cross, HISD parent and H.E.A.R. member. “It’s clear that school finance reform is the number one priority at the Capitol this session. To get this done for our children, we must continue to ramp up the pressure on our lawmakers.”

On March 5, House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty filed the House’s comprehensive school finance reform legislation, House Bill 3. Some key provisions of HB 3 that align with HISD and H.E.A.R. priorities include:

  • An increase to the state’s basic allotment from $5,140 to $6,030 per student statewide. This would significantly reduce HISD’s annual recapture payment obligation.
  • Funding for full-day pre-K programs.
  • An Increase to the compensatory education weight for economically disadvantaged students.
  • Transportation funding for HISD at $1 per mile. As a district in recapture, HISD currently receives no transportation funding from the state.

On March 8, Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) filed the Senate’s version of school finance reform legislation, Senate Bill 4.  The Senate version includes funding that incentivizes school districts to focus on third grade literacy and college, career and military readiness. Like HB 3, SB 4 restores transportation funding to HISD and provides additional funding for full-day Pre-K.

“Lawmakers need to hear from parents, teachers, and business and community leaders,” said Tish Ochoa, HISD parent, local restaurant owner, and H.E.A.R. member.  “A bright future for our children is contingent upon a strong Texas economy. That starts with a successful, well-funded public school system.”

You can learn more about the state’s current school finance system, how it impacts HISD, and contact key state lawmakers by visiting the District’s #FixSchoolFinance toolkit.