Texas teacher association urges more investment into schools from state budget surplus

This is not the first attempt to bring enrollment-based funding to schools in Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — Educators are cautiously and optimistically watching the events of the 88th Texas State Legislative Session. Because bills surrounding public education could be introduced, removing some of the burden from their professional field.

Among them are the Texas Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in Texas, and the state chapter of the National Education Association. TSTA President Ovidia Molina said the state hopes to use some of its billions of dollars in budget surpluses to fund public education.

The state has a $32.7 billion bonus surplus going into this regular legislative session.

“We need to make sure we offer a variety of programs to help our students learn the arts and see themselves in the world,” Molina said. If you’re worried about how, how to pay for the bus, how to make sure the lights are on, you can’t do that.”

Public education is already the focus of several bills. Rep. Gina Hinojosa introduced House Joint Resolution 69. This calls for an increase in teachers’ salaries. State representatives also introduced House Bill 31. This requires funding schools based on the average number of students enrolled during the academic year. Schools are now funded based on average daily attendance. HB 31 prevents school districts from losing money when students miss school.

The same bill, Senate Bill 263, was introduced by State Senator Nathan Johnson of Dallas.

Molina told KVUE that funding received based on student average daily attendance would have a domino effect within the district.

“We lose that money just because a handful or more students don’t come,” Molina said. “But we still have to pay the district’s bills.”

This is not the first attempt to bring enrollment-based funding to schools in Texas. Two of his bills, HB 1246 and SB 728, introduced in the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021, received bipartisan support from legislators and educators across the state, but both bills have failed to reach public hearings. It could not be hung up and did not reach the assembly hall.

Texas schools now earn $6,160 per student meeting average daily attendance. That’s more than $4,000 behind her national average for funding per student, according to a study conducted by Education Week.

Johnson also files SB 88, which increases the allotment to $7,075.

Aside from the issue of funding public education, Molina said conversations about schools and curricula are ongoing, particularly with controversies over library books and classroom debates dealing with race and sexuality. There is

Houston Area Rep. Steve Toth introduced bill HB 631 to ban discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools through fifth grade. This mirrors Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which states that “no classroom instruction by school officials or third parties regarding sexual orientation or gender , in kindergarten up to grade 3 or in an age-unappropriate manner.” Suitable for student development according to state standards. “

Molina said she hoped to see bipartisan support for education. Still, she said she wants to talk to legislators so they can see and feel the concerns of Texas educators.

“What we really want with this session is that they actually support students and educators because of the surplus that we have,” Molina said.

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