LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Texas House Pledges Support for Speaker Nominee Rep. Dennis Bonnen

Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a 46-year-old Angleton Republican who has spent almost half of his life in the Texas House of Representatives, appears to have the votes to succeed Rep. Joe Straus as Speaker of the House. Bonnen is a shrewd tactician and top ally of Straus, emerging over the past decade as one of the lower chamber's most outspoken members, going to bat for the House over high-profile issues like property tax reform and border security.
 

Bonnen, who chairs the powerful budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee, has long been regarded as a hard-nosed lawmaker who doesn’t shy away from conflict. Many Democrats have applauded him for continually standing up for the Texas House in its rivalry against the Senate — even if it put him at odds with fellow Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who presides over the upper chamber.
 

Rep. Bonnen has released a list of 109 Representatives, including 78 Republicans and nearly half — 31 of 67 — of the Democrats who will serve in the House next year, who have pledged to support his candidacy for Speaker of the House. He has declared school finance reform as his number one priority for the next session that begins on January 8, 2019.

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New Long-Range Plan for Public Education Adopted

The State Board of Education has adopted a new Long-Range Plan for Public Education (through the year 2030) which establishes an overall goal of access and equity so that all children receive what they need to learn, thrive, and grow. This reflects a desire to have equitable access to funding, advanced courses, and modern technology.
 

Developed after assessing the strengths, opportunities, and challenges across Texas, the plan also focuses on student engagement and empowerment; family engagement and empowerment; and educator preparation, recruitment, and retention as key areas that are vital to educational progress.
 

The 18-member steering committee included State Board members, local school board members, administrators, teachers, parents — including Texas PTA President Sheri Doss — business representatives, students, and professors, as well as representatives from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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Revenues Working Group Meets to Discuss Ideas for Funding Schools

The Revenues Working Group of the Texas Public School Finance Commission met in early November to discuss revenue ideas for funding schools, although they focused mainly on property tax relief. Little of the discussion focused on new areas of revenue to increase the overall share of education funding but, rather, looked at rising property taxes and restructuring recapture.
 

Tommy Williams, former state senator and current budget advisor for Gov. Abbott, explained the Governor’s plan to limit property tax growth with a 2.5% cap and use any additional state revenue sources to provide property tax relief or alleviate the effects of recapture. Williams noted several times that the state must invest new money in the school finance system but did not suggest the source of any new money.
The most recent meeting was held on November 27 and considered these proposals. Read more about the Governor’s school finance plan here.

Legislative Priorities Adopted

Texas PTA has adopted priorities for the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature that begins on January 8, 2019.  Top priorities include:

  • Public school funding reform to make funding  more equitable and adequate to meet the needs of all students
  • Literacy by third grade — prioritizing funding for full-day pre-kindergarten school for at-risk students
  • Comprehensive school safety legislation, including policies to improve access to Texas School Safety Center programs and services and funding for hardening of school facilities
  • Comprehensive student mental health plan of programs and services to help students be mentally strong, and systems to  identify and provide services to students in need of mental health intervention 
  • Funding for special education services sufficient to address the Federal Government’s corrective action
  • Support policies to strengthen anti-cyberbullying laws

 READ the complete list of PRIORITIES here. 

TEA Awarded $2 million in School Safety Grants

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has been awarded two Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act grants. Both federal grants, worth $1 million each, will be used to support mental health training for Texas school districts, as well as establish effective campus threat assessment practices across the state.
 

The two grants of $1 million each represent the maximum grant awards for each category of the STOP School Violence Act grants. The two grants awarded to the state will be used for the following:
 

     

Statewide School Violence and Mental Health Training Program
 

An informal competitive grant program will assist Texas school districts in obtaining needed mental health training for staff and administrators. This training will serve the needs of students, while also providing awareness and connections to needed mental health services. The initial grants will be made available to Alpine ISD, Italy ISD, and Santa Fe ISD. Additional school districts will be added to the grant program through a competitive application process over the next two years. All grant funds will be awarded to provide the training needed to meet the identified needs of the district to prevent school violence from occurring.
 

     

School Threat Assessment Teams
 

This grant will be used to support the statewide development, implementation, and operation of school threat assessment teams. Texas schools currently lack formalized statewide training in the threat assessment process, which is critical to successfully preventing targeted acts of school violence. This statewide training program —  which will be a collaborative effort between TEA, the Texas School Safety Center, and SIGMA Threat Management — will properly equip school personnel with the skills needed to recognize, respond quickly to, and prevent acts of violence across the state of Texas.

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Legislative Roundtable

With the 86th Legislative Session starting in a few months, the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Council of PTAs, in partnership with the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Birdville ISD, Frisco ISD, Northwest ISD, and Lewisville ISD Councils of PTAs, will be hosting a legislative roundtable to discuss the state of public education in Texas. The panelists will be comprised of area state representatives, with questions provided by notecards from the audience. This is your chance, as a constituent, to discuss the issues affecting public education and hear from the people who create the laws and policies shaping the education system. This event is open to the public.


The legislative roundtable will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the GCISD PDEC, Panther Den, 5800 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville. 


For additional details download the flyer (RIGHT) or visit the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/313411609420061/

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October 9th is the last day to register to vote for the November 6th General Election!

Your application must be  received in the Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked at least 30 days before an election to be eligible to vote in that election. Early voting runs October 22-November 2. Learn more here

House Public Education Committee Issues Report Detailing School Safety Recommendations

The House Public Education Committee has issued its report in the wake of the Santa Fe ISD shootings. Among  the recommendations:

  • Ensure inclusion of social-emotional learning for all students with inclusion of character education in the state’s curriculum;
  • Encourage ISDs to adopt positive behavioral interventions and supports, such as those developed at Region IV in Houston, along with restorative justice measures;

       

  • Revise state’s health education curriculum to increase the focus on mental health, including an emphasis on reducing the stigma around mental illness;
  • Establish statewide resource on student mental health, including technical training, located at the state’s education service centers;
  • Increase financial resources to ISDs to provide more mental health professionals, including social workers and school psychologists, and encourage school districts  to use support staff to handle clerical and administrative duties;
  • Establish mental health crisis intervention teams, in conjunction with Health and Human Services Commission and local mental health authorities, for the 2018-19  school year, with the intention of lawmakers choosing to fund the teams; and
  • Provide additional funding to Texas School Safety Center to expand oversight and audit duties over school district emergency operational plans, and make sure  all statutory provisions extend to charter schools.

Read the full report here.

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Texas House of Representatives to Elect a New Speaker

      

Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, announced several months ago that he would not run for re-election to the  Texas House, thus creating an opening for a new Speaker of the House. It’s the first open-seat election for Speaker since Gib Lewis decided to retire 26 years ago. Thus far seven members of the House have filed to replace him:

  • Rep. John Zerwas, R – Houston
  • Rep. Tan Parker, R – Flower Mound
  • Rep. Phil King, R – Weatherford
  • Rep. Travis Clardy, R – Nacogdoches
  • Rep. Drew Darby, R – San Angelo
  • Rep. Eric Johnson, D –  Dallas
  • Rep. Four Price, R – Amarillo

The Speaker is elected by the members of the House on the first day of the legislative session, January 8, 2019.  Members who have filed to run for Speaker can openly campaign for the position as soon as they file. Rumors abound regarding other House members who will run for Speaker but have not yet filed. 


Why is the Speaker of the House election so important?

The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the Texas House of Representatives.  The Texas Constitution requires the House of Representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as Speaker. The Speaker’s main duties are to conduct meetings of the House, appoint committees, maintain order during  floor debate, recognize members who wish to speak, and enforce the Rules of the House. One of the most influential roles of the Speaker is his or her ability to control legislation as it moves through the process, speeding or slowing the movement of legislation  based on several factors, including his or her political philosophy and party affiliation, and the will of the members of the House. 

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Texas Expects Thousands More Special Education Students and Not Enough Teachers

        

In the wake of federal sanctions against Texas — for placing an illegal cap that artificially limited for a  decade the number of students who received special education services — Texas expects thousands more students to be identified for services in the next year and a need for 9,000 special education teachers to teach them. The rigors of teaching special education  have resulted in a national shortage of special education certified teachers. State officials estimate it will cost the state up to $3.3 billion to provide special education to more than 150,000 additional students by 2021, a roughly 30% increase.

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SAVE THE DATE - RALLY DAY IS FEBRUARY 25, 2019

Please join us for Texas PTAs 2019 Rally Day! This will be your chance to meet with your legislators to discuss Texas PTAs legislative priorities.


Once the 2019 priorities are released we will be sure to update & notify!

Advocacy begins with each of us.

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Get Involved

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Contact Your Representatives

  

Texas U.S. Senators

U.S. Senators represent the entire state.   Texas' current U.S. Senators are Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz.   See their websites for current contact information.

Texas U.S.   Representative

Congressional District 26--Congressman Michael   C. Burgess
Texas Congressional Member Websites
 

Texas State Senator

Texas State Senate District 12--Senator   Jane Nelson
  Capitol Office: CAP 1E.5
  Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0112
  Capitol Address: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
  Austin, TX 78711
  District Address: 1225 S. Main St., Suite 100
  Grapevine TX 76051
  Phone: (817) 424-3446
State District Offices

Texas State   Representative

Texas State House District 63--Representative Tan Parker
  Capitol Office: CAP 4S.2
  Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0688
  Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
  Austin, TX 78768
  District Address: 800 Parker Square, Ste. 245
  Flower Mound TX 75028
  Phone: (972) 724-8477

Texas State Board of   Education Member

Texas State SBOE District 14--Ms. Sue   Melton-Malone
State Board of Education Member   Websites 


LISD Board of Trustees

https://www.lisd.net/Page/8506

  

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Stay in Touch

Juli Greenberg

Wellington PTA Legislative/Advocacy Chair

legislative.wes@gmail.com