Tag Archives: legislature

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 Statement on Texas Legislature Budget Proposal

The following statement is being issued in response to today’s announcement that the Texas Legislature has reached a budget agreement, which restores $3.4 billion of the previous $5.4 billion cut to public education and provides $530 million for the Teacher Retirement System.

“The Houston Independent School District commends the Texas Legislature for the significant restoration of public education funding this session. This increase, although positive, does not restore the $5.4 billion in education cuts that were made in 2011. We look forward to working with the Legislature and other leaders to address the obvious shortcomings in the current school finance system, which has been declared unconstitutional.  For Texas to remain at the forefront of America’s economic recovery, we need a school finance system that recognizes the costs associated with helping all children achieve the high academic standards we have for them.”

HISD Board of Education to Consider 2012-2013 Budget

The Houston ISD Board of Education will meet Thursday, June 21, 2012 to consider adopting a $1.58 billion budget that addresses the loss of $47.1  million in state funding and provides staff pay raises without increasing the property tax rate.

The Texas Legislature’s decision to cut public education funding by $5.4 billion statewide cost HISD schools $125.1 million over a two-year period.  Because of these cuts, the state now pays 21 percent of HISD’s budget, compared to 26 percent a year ago.  The amount of HISD’s revenue that comes from local tax dollars now totals 79 percent.

All Houston ISD employees would receive pay increases ranging from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent under the proposal.

HISD’s non-teaching staff last received a pay raise in 2009-2010, and some, but not all, teachers received a raise in 2010-2011. No employees received raises during the 2011-2012 school year. Superintendent Terry Grier has asked the board to consider the pay increases in an effort to remain competitive with surrounding Houston-area school districts that have already proposed doing so. 

           Under the proposal, all teachers would receive a 2 percent pay raise.

           Other employee groups would receive the following salary increases under the compensation proposal:

  • Principals, assistant principals and deans: 2 percent
  • School bus operators, hourly food services employees, and salaried departmental employees on the lower end of the pay scale: 2.25 percent
  • Substitute teachers and other hourly employees: 2.25  percent
  • Professional employees and upper-level administrators: 1.75 percent

The district is addressing a projected revenue shortfall in part with $8.9 million from the district’s savings account, which currently stands at about $257 million. 

About $17 million of the shortfall caused by the cut in state funding would be covered by reducing the amount of general fund money that is normally transferred to HISD’s debt service fund to help repay loans at a faster rate than is required.  This reduction is a one-time option that will not be available in future years.

HISD has also identified several areas of decreased spending for the upcoming school year. These include:

  • $7 million in reduced employee health and unemployment insurance costs.
  • $5.5 million less for bilingual and special education programs. This is a result of the declining number of HISD students identified for bilingual and special education services.
  • $5 million less in ASPIRE performance awards.
  • $2.5 million in non-campus departmental cuts, primarily through departmental consolidations and layoffs.  Last year, HISD eliminated 221 non-campus positions.

Although the board will not adopt a property tax rate until later this year, Dr. Grier intends to recommend that HISD maintain the current tax rate, which is the lowest of any school district in Harris County. Last week, the Board of Education agreed to continue granting an optional 20 percent homestead exemption in addition to the standard $15,000 exemption that homeowners across the state receive.

The Board’s meeting begins at 5 p.m. with a public budget hearing in the board auditorium of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (4400 West 18th St., 77092).  Click here to read the full agenda.  The meeting will be carried live on HISD’s website and on the HISD Channel, which can be found on Comcast Channel 18 or AT&T Channel 99.