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Legislative Priorities

86th Legislative Session Priorities

Public education is a partnership between school district and the state of Texas. With rising academic standards set by the Texas Legislature, each district should have appropriate state resources to educate all students. Committed to setting high expectations for all students, Round Rock ISD has identified the following legislative priorities for the Texas Legislature’s consideration.

We support the following school finance priorities…

Increasing the basic allotment and providing districts flexibility with those dollars

Rationale: For the 2018–2019 school year, the basic allotment was $5,140. The Texas Legislature should increase the basic allotment by adding new state dollars into the Foundation School Program (FSP), the state program that establishes the amount of state and local funding due to school districts under Texas school finance law and that provides the state share of this funding to districts. We support requiring the state to share the costs of funding public schools by providing at least 50 percent of the Foundational School Program formula to reduce over-reliance on local property taxes.

Round Rock ISD Impact: Local taxpayers in Round Rock will lose $32 million this year due to recapture.

Recommendation: Allocate more state funding towards the basic allotment or raise the Equalize Wealth Level (EWL).

Addressing recapture and allow communities to keep local tax dollars

Rationale: Recapture is a mechanism in state funding formulas that recaptures local property taxes if a district’s property wealth per student exceeds a certain level. Round Rock ISD has been designated as a Chapter 41 (“Property Wealthy”) school district since 2002-03. During that time, the District has made close to $52 million in recapture payments to the state of Texas. In 2018-19, the District is expected to make recapture payments of approximately $32 million. By increasing the first equalized wealth level for recapture districts, school districts can retain more local tax dollars that go to educating students.

Round Rock ISD Impact: With more than 50,000 students in a fast-growth district, Round Rock ISD uses every penny raised by local tax dollars to support its programs and compensate its educators. Round Rock ISD is projected to make recapture payments between $56-58 million during the 2019-20 school year.

Recommendation: Consider giving districts a credit on their recapture payment by providing the transportation allotment, something property wealthy districts do not receive. Adjust the first equalized wealth level to a higher level.

Increase state funding formulas by updating outdated elements including the basic allotment, transportation allotment, special population weights, and the cost of education index to align with actual costs.

Rationale: The transportation allotment has not been updated since 1984. The special student population weights do not reflect current costs associated with providing educational and support services for students. Special education costs continue to rise.

Round Rock ISD Impact: The District is estimated to receive $2.9 million in transportation allotment funds, 22 percent of the total $13.2 million cost. If funding formulas included the full benefit of the cost of education index within funding formulas, the District would receive an additional in $10.3 million.

Recommendation: Update state funding formulas to provide resources that match costs, including special education services.

Within the state funding formula, include an index for inflation that provides a mechanism for funding to parallel increasing costs

Rationale: The basic allotment is currently set at $5,140. An increase in the basic allotment would help all Texas school districts with rising costs for everything from salaries and insurance benefits to software and supplies. The current state funding formula does not provide additional funds to keep up with inflationary costs.

Round Rock ISD Impact: If no additional funds are provided, the District will have less resources to meet the State’s rising academic standards.

Recommendation: Update the state school finance formula to include an index mechanism for inflation.

Adequately fund the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) to ensure districts are able to meet increasing costs and adequately fund required materials adoptions as well as technology

Rationale: The current IMA funds are inadequate to pay for all instructional materials and technology intended.

Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD serves nearly 50,000 students and must provide adequate materials and technology to support an education aligned with the skills needed to be successful.

Recommendation: Adequately fund the IMA to ensure districts are able to meet increasing costs and adequately fund required materials adoptions as well as technology.

Provide necessary and ongoing funding for any new initiatives (i.e. no unfunded mandates)

Rationale: Round Rock ISD, like any school district, has limited resources and adopts a budget that includes school safety. Beyond providing police surveillance, the district expends resources to provide counselors, school psychologists and mental health professionals to address students’ needs.

Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD serves more than 50,000 students and must provide significant resources to secure our 55 campuses

Recommendation: With any new legislation requiring more police, counselors, or other initiatives related to school safety, the district respectfully requests adequate funding to sustain these measures.

Provide funding for full-day pre-kindergarten

Rationale: Research shows that children who attend high-quality prekindergarten programs are more likely to be kindergarten ready, to earn higher scores on third-grade reading and mathematics assessment tests, and ultimately, to graduate from high school on time and enroll in college. Among eligible children who attend public pre-k programs, 58 percent are kindergarten ready, while only 42 percent of eligible children who do not attend pre-k are kindergarten ready.

Round Rock ISD Impact: The state’s Foundation School Program (FSP) provides funding for half-day pre-kindergarten programs for eligible children. While half-day programs do provide academic benefits for eligible students, full-day programs provide students with more time to focus on skills needed for school readiness and to close opportunity gaps. Full-day programs also address a practical concern for working parents who may be unable to enroll their children in half-day programs due to limited half-day child care options.

Recommendation: Support the Texas Commission on Public Finance Committee’s recommendation to credit districts with full-day attendance within the Foundation School Program for students attending full-day prekindergarten programs.

Continue the current defined benefit pension program for TRS members

Rationale: A new report finds that teacher defined benefit (DB) pension plans play a critical role in retaining educators while also providing greater retirement security than defined contribution (DC) or 401(k)-style retirement accounts. Teacher turnover patterns reflect the powerful role of pensions in retaining experienced teachers. Attrition is high in the first few years after hire, but falls off sharply and stays low through mid-career. Attrition spikes at the specific retirement ages of each pension system.

Round Rock ISD Impact: Recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers is critically important to Round Rock ISD and to the future of Texas. TRS is a valuable incentive in attracting candidates to the teaching profession but changes in benefits as well as employee contributions undermines its value and puts current teachers in a vulnerable position.

Recommendation: Provide significant state funding to ensure the solvency of the defined teacher benefit retirement system without shifting additional costs to teachers, school employees or school districts.

We support the following academic accountability priorities…

Amend A-F for schools to ensure it is a meaningful measure of performance

Rationale: Texas public schools and districts are now assessed a letter grade on an A-F scale. The state assessment (STAAR) represents 55 percent of a district’s grade. As STAAR continues to evolve, the accountability system needs to be more holistic, recognizing outcomes outside state assessments such as completion of CTE coherent sequences, completion of college level courses, and UIL academic activities.

Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD schools will embrace accountability and strive to meet its own high expectations.

Recommendation: Ensure A-F truly reflects the challenges and outcomes of our students.

Keep Individual Graduation Committee Option.

Rationale: The Individual Graduation Committee provides an opportunity for students who have failed the EOC assessment graduation requirements for no more than two courses to graduate if the student has qualified to graduate by the means of an individual graduation committee (IGC). The IGC is composed of the principal, the teacher of the course(s) the students failed, a lead teacher in the content area and a representative of the student, such as a parent.

Round Rock ISD Impact: A cornerstone of Round Rock ISD is its drive to serve all students. IGCs allow Round Rock ISD to ensure our students successfully graduate and meet the criteria outlined to be successful in their postsecondary life.

Recommendation: Continue to support the Individual Graduation Committee option.

We support the following Post-Secondary Readiness priorities…

Continue to support funding for Dual Credit

Rationale: The state currently provides funding for dual credit, which includes partnerships between school districts and community colleges. The state needs to invest more to support these partnerships and expand post-secondary opportunities for high school students.

Round Rock ISD Impact: The associated costs needed to support the Early College High School is approximately $450,000 a year which covers the tuition/staff costs.

Recommendation: Provide additional state funding to the Early College rider in Article III of the state budget.

Move technology application courses under CTE for weighted funding

Rationale: Most ISDs offer Computer Science, Robotics and Video Game Design, which are Technology Applications courses (called Tech Apps). Tech Apps courses do not receive the CTE weighted funding (1.35).

Round Rock ISD Impact: Weighted funding would allow the District to buy equipment to support Tech Apps courses.

Recommendation: Move the Tech Apps courses under the CTE umbrella to allow those courses to receive weighted CTE funding.

Protect SB 1882 and Innovation Initiatives

Rationale: The Texas Legislature passed SB 1882 last session to incentivize ISDs to partner with local community stakeholders to improve innovation and student outcomes.

Round Rock ISD Impact: This is a dynamic tool available to school districts that provides additional state funding and resources.

Recommendation: Maintain this law to allow ISDs to consider innovative partnerships that improve student achievement.

We oppose a school choice/voucher program without accountability and transparency…

Support accountability for taxpayer dollars and student achievement through state assessments for any form of voucher program (i.e. tuition tax-credit)

Rationale: Lawmakers demand academic and financial accountability from school districts and school boards. Any proposal that does not account for taxpayer dollars should not be considered.

Round Rock ISD Impact: A voucher program will further deplete the underfunded Foundation School Program.

Recommendation: Do not pass legislation establishing a voucher program without transparency and accountability to taxpayers.

Recent Legislation

Keep up to date with education bills that were discussed in the Legislature.

Contact Your Legislators

Round Rock ISD is represented by three State Representatives and two State Senators.

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