Raise Your Hand Texas applauds the work of the 86th Texas Legislature in passing a comprehensive school finance bill without the threat of a court order. The $11.6 billion plan includes funding for full-day pre-K for eligible students, prioritizing compensation increases for classroom teachers with more than five years of experience, relief for property taxpayers and other finance formula changes that ensure more money will go to the students who need it most.
Reaching consensus on the issues in any school finance debate is difficult. In the end, the legislature found a middle ground that moves Texas forward. And yet, the progress made represents only the first of many steps Texas must take to help our public schools achieve the high expectations we have for our students and schools.
The most significant change the Texas Legislature made this session to improve our public schools was to provide funding for full-day pre-K for all currently eligible students. Research proves students who attend full-day, high-quality pre-K are more likely to read on grade level by third grade. This investment will give all students a fair shot at success and pay dividends for future generations of Texans.
We are also pleased the conference committee rejected test-based funding, allowing districts to concentrate on programs proven to work. Other important changes to the school finance formulas will ensure more funding goes to students based on poverty, dual language participation, dyslexia, and special education.
Still, much work remains. Texas still ranks 43rd in the nation in per-pupil spending on our public schools. Additionally, the $5.05 billion of property tax relief in House Bill 3 will pose an ongoing funding expectation for future legislatures as they seek to meet the demands of the state’s budget.
While some challenges remain, we are incredibly grateful to the many legislators, staffers, and advocates who made public education a priority this session. House Bill 3 represents a major step forward for our students and teachers, and the future of Texas public schools will be brighter for years to come.
Dr. Michelle Smith, Director of Government Relations
Raise Your Hand Texas
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