Category Archives: Governmental Relations

Artwork at three HISD campuses unveiled for Gulfton Story Trail Mural Project

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Students, staff, and community members were on hand recently to celebrate the unveiling of mural paintings on three HISD campuses – Jane Long Academy, Sutton Elementary School, and Las Americas Newcomer School.

The three schools are part of the Gulfton Story Trail Mural Project, which features 12 artistic murals inspired by poems written by local students. The project showcases the area’s culture while attracting visitors to the southwest Houston neighborhood — one of the most immigrant-rich areas of the city.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan lauded the murals as a point of pride for the district’s students and families.

“They will serve as a reminder for many years to come that we embrace diversity in the Houston Independent School District,” Lathan said. Continue reading

HISD students meet state lawmakers, tour Capitol on opening day of legislative session  

HISD high school students traveled to Austin on Tuesday, Jan. 8 to visit the State Capitol on opening day of the 2019 Texas Legislative Session.

Fifty students from East Early College, Yates, Eastwood Academy, Bellaire, Sterling, Wisdom, and Westbury high schools and Young Woman’s College Preparatory Academy observed the ceremonial swearing-in of members of the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. There are 31 members of the Texas Senate and 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives.

The group had the unique experience of witnessing the election of a new House Speaker, which hasn’t occurred since 2009. Rep. Dennis Bonnen from Angleton was unanimously elected to serve as Speaker. Speaker Bonnen pledged to make school finance reform his top priority.   Continue reading

HISD seeks applicants for new legislative advocacy initiative called H.E.A.R.

HISD is seeking applications for the Houston Educational Advocacy Representatives (H.E.A.R.) initiative, a coalition to advance the district’s legislative priorities in Austin and Washington, D.C.

H.E.A.R., launching this fall, is a volunteer group of business and community leaders, parents, teachers, principals, retired educators, philanthropists, and legislative staff. Participants will be asked to visit Austin to meet with lawmakers during the 2019 Texas Legislative Session.

“This school year, HISD’s recapture payment is estimated to be $272 million. The state will collect about $5 billion in recapture payments from over 200 school districts by the end of 2019,” said Ashlea Turner, HISD’s Chief Governmental Relations and Strategy Officer. “At HISD, recapture causes school budget cuts, fewer support services, and layoffs — with a direct impact on students. HISD’s recapture situation proves the current school finance system is broken. School finance reform is overdue in Austin.”   Continue reading

New ‘Legislative Center’ encourages community engagement in lawmaking process

HISD has launched a new online hub for all legislative information to educate the community and encourage participation in the lawmaking process.  The Legislative Center is a unique tool designed to expand the community’s access to state lawmakers and facilitate communication between Houstonians and key decisionmakers in Austin.

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HISD Trustees and Superintendent heading to Austin to discuss school finance solutions

Members of the HISD Board of Education and Superintendent Richard Carranza will spend two full days in Austin this week, collaborating with top state leaders to address changes to Texas’ school finance system.

Board President Wanda Adams, trustees Anna Eastman, Michael Lunceford, and Rhonda Skillern-Jones, along with Superintendent Richard Carranza will have scheduled meetings on Wednesday and Thursday with state leaders and members of HISD’s legislative delegation in Austin.

“The HISD Board of Education and administration are united in our desire to work constructively with our state leaders to identify funding solutions that put children first,” Adams said. “We all agree that Texas’ school finance system was never intended to take classroom resources from our state’s most needy children.” Continue reading

HISD’s top priority as 85th Legislature convenes: School finance

As the 85th Texas Legislature convenes today in Austin, the state’s school finance system is the top priority on HISD’s legislative agenda, and the district will ask state lawmakers to make changes that would keep local tax dollars in Houston schools.

Under the state’s current school finance system, HISD is considered “property wealthy” and is subject to sending $162 million in local property taxes to the state – a process known as “recapture.” But on Election Day, Houstonians voted down the ballot measure that would have authorized the $162 million payment and future payments totaling more than $1 billion. This means that, starting in July, the Texas Education Agency can detach $18 billion worth of nonresidential, commercial property from HISD’s tax rolls and reassign those businesses to other school districts for taxing purposes. The TEA will continue to detach property every July for the foreseeable future.

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HISD voters to decide whether to send local school tax dollars to the state

Board also calls special election for Trustee District VII

In order to comply with Texas’ school finance law, Houston ISD trustees on Thursday called a special election to let voters decide whether they are willing to send an estimated $162 million in local tax dollars to the state of Texas.

Under Texas law, HISD is now considered a “wealthy” school district because of rising property values, even though three-quarters of all students come from low-income households. As a result, HISD is being asked to pay the state about $162 million later this fiscal year. That payment cannot be made unless voters approve.

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HISD’s Procurement Services receives national recognition

HISD’s Procurement Services has been honored with the 2016 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award  from the National Procurement Institute. HISD is one of a select group of school districts in the U.S. to receive this award, which recognizes excellence in the field. Achievement of Excellence in Procurement2

Procurement Services is made up of a team of experts who facilitate everything related to the purchasing of materials and supplies for HISD. This prestigious award acknowledges the team’s support of HISD students, faculty, and staff. Procurement Services will be recognized at the 48th Annual NPI Conference, which takes place Oct. 9-12 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Texas legislative session yields victories for public education

The Texas Legislature convened from January to June of 2015. More than 100 bills passed related to public education.

According to Government Relations Director Ashlea Graves, one of the biggest victories for HISD was the passage of Senate Bill 1004, which gives all school districts in Harris County the ability to work with the four community college systems operating inside its boundaries: Houston Community College, Lone Star, San Jacinto, and Lee.

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HISD Board of Education gets first glimpse of 2015-2016 recommended budget

Despite decreasing state funds, district continues to emphasize competitive salaries for teachers and principals as well as increased bilingual stipends

Under the state’s current funding structure, the Houston Independent School District could lose $46.4 million in state funds for the 2015-2016 school year because of rising property values throughout the city.

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