85th 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 2014–2015 school year, the basic allotment was $5,040. 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.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Local taxpayers in Round Rock will lose $18 million this year due to recapture.
Solution: Allocate more state funding towards the basic allotment.
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 more than $43 million in recapture payments to the state of Texas. In 2017-18, the District is expected to make recapture payments between $9-11 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 48,000 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 $9-11 million during 2017-18.
Solution: 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.
Allow districts to have the same authority as cities and counties to increase the tax rate by a prescribed number of pennies. In conjunction, increase the golden pennies to 8 cents and decrease copper pennies to 9 cents
Rationale: Beyond $1.04, school boards must hold an election to access an additional 13 cents available by statute. If the state continues to avoid updating the funding formulas and the true cost to educate students, local communities need to turn to their own voters to fill the gap.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD will lose $18 million and will have to consider using its fund balance, money raised from local property taxes.
Solution: Local control should be consistent for municipalities and school districts.
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.
Round Rock ISD Impact: The District is estimated to receive $2.6 million in transportation allotment funds, 21% of total $12.4 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 $9.7 million.
Solution: Update state funding formulas to provide resources that match the cost of 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.
Solution: Allocate additional funding towards the basic allotment and update formula to include 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 48,000 students and must provide adequate materials and technology to support an education aligned with the skills needed to be successful.
Solution: Pass legislation to 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: School districts plan the use of their resources annually as part of a budget planning process. During legislative sessions, however, laws are passed that create additional financial obligations with little to no funding to implement new requirements. Examples include the TRS Employer Contribution of 1.5% that was enacted by the 83th Legislature in 2013 and the special education camera and storage requirement enacted in 2015 during the 84th Legislative Session.
Round Rock ISD Impact: District will spend about $4 million on the employer contribution requirement, increasing each year. There is no funding provided to cover this directed expenditure. The cost to install cameras in 129 special education classrooms, along with cabling, server storage and related costs is expected to be approximately $475,000.
Solution: Allocate sufficient resources for new initiatives required of school districts.
We support the following academic accountability priorities…
Amend A-F for schools to ensure it is a meaningful measure of performance
Rationale: Effective September 1, 2017, schools will receive a letter grade. The state assessment (STAAR) will represent 55 percent of a district’s grade. While the Texas Legislature continues to raise the bar for STAAR every year, it has failed to restore the funding cuts to the FSP from 2011.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD schools will embrace accountability and strive to meet its own high expectations.
Solution: Ensure A-F truly reflects the challenges and outcomes of our students.
Amend the accountability system to allow districts to receive credit for students earning an associate’s degree, completing IB courses, completing Internships and other post-secondary measures
Rationale: The current accountability system measures post-secondary readiness. However, it fails to look at the comprehensive results in our high schools.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD has an IB program in 8 schools and an Early College High School that could benefit from the change in the law.
Solution: Add the aforementioned outcomes in Domain IV of the accountability system.
Protect District of Innovation law to ensure ISDs continue to have local control over student achievement
Rationale: The Texas Legislature last session passed HB 1842 to allow districts, with community and staff input, to address student achievement. This provision allows ISDs to be exempt from certain laws similar to charter schools, who have had the ability to innovate for over 20 years. Districts need to address unique and evolving student needs and give its educators the freedom to implement innovative practices.
Round Rock ISD Impact: After careful deliberation as per the law, Round Rock ISD is in the process of adopting its own innovation plan.
Solution: If lawmakers are serious about school performance, then they must give this initiative support.
Keep End-Of-Course (EOC) individual graduation committee option.
Rationale: The EOC Individual Graduation Committee provides an opportunity for students who has 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 RRISD to ensure our students successfully graduate and meet the criteria outlined to be successful in their postsecondary life.
Solution: Continue to support the End-of-Course (EOC) Individual Graduation Committee option.
Amend the accountability system to add more weight for continuously enrolled students
Rationale: Accountability scores include all students in the District by the fall Public Education Information Management System (PIEMS) snapshot, meaning some students could be enrolled in a school for a short period before being included in STAAR scores.
Round Rock ISD Impact: By more heavily weighting the scores of continuously enrolled students, the ratio of efforts of District campuses to student outcomes is more adequately reflected in the scores.
Solution: Pass legislation to amend the accountability system to add more weight for continuously enrolled students.
We support the following Post-Secondary Readiness priorities…
Continue to support funding for Dual Credit
Rationale: The state currently funds dual credit at $180 million. HB 5 encourages ISDs to partner with community colleges. Accordingly, RRISD has embarked on establishing additional Early College High Schools. There are 167 Early College High Schools across the state. The state needs to invest more to support these partnerships and expanded opportunities for high school students.
Round Rock ISD Impact: The associated costs needed to support the Early College High School is approximately $250,000 a year which covers the tuition/staff costs.
Solution: Provide additional state funding to the Early College rider in Article III of the state budget.
Continue to support funding for Texas Workforce Commission programs, such as JET and Skills Development Fund, which support CTE programs
Rationale: The Skills Development Fund and the JET program support education and workforce development. The Legislature deems these programs important providing $48 million and $10 million, respectively. In Texas, high school students earned over 30,000 industry credentials last year.
Round Rock ISD Impact: RRISD has approximately 40 programs where students can earn a certification while in high school. Students earned over 6,000 industry certifications.
Solution: Consider using the excess funds in the Rainy Day Fund to add funding to the aforementioned programs.
Expand immunity for CTE students participating in internships
Rationale: Currently Texas high school students may be placed in local businesses as part of their career and technical education (CTE). These students perform tasks and receive training to further their educational experiences. Local businesses are asking school districts to provide liability coverage for the student’s actions while working in the business. This is in keeping with a new emphasis on the “transfer of risk” by most public and private businesses.
Round Rock ISD Impact: There are 250 students enrolled in CTE classes at Round Rock ISD high schools. If students receive immunity, it is expected to increase district placement options with private businesses.
Solution: Add CTE students to the statutory definition of “professional employee of a school district” providing these students with the same immunities while they are working in their programs as regular school employees.
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.
Solution: Move the Tech Apps courses under the CTE umbrella to allow those courses to receive weighted funding.
Allow ISDs to work with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to provide dual credit/ certification programs
Rationale: With the passage of HB 5, the legislature encouraged ISDs to provide expanded post-secondary opportunities to its students. While TSTC currently offers dual credit classes to ISDs at no charge, TSTC must seek approval from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board before working with any school district.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Currently ACC does not offer all program areas that Round Rock ISD students are interested in. Creating a smooth pathway for Round Rock ISD to partner with TSTC would allow the District to utilize a great resource to serve students.
Solution: Pass legislation to allow ISDs to work with TSTC to provide dual credit/certification programs.
Support funding for P-Tech/ ECHS model
Rationale: A Pathways in Technology Early College High School model provides the opportunity for an ISD to partner with technology companies, allowing students to earn a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and two years of internship experience during a six-year program.
Round Rock ISD Impact: Round Rock ISD is in a unique position to partner with a variety of technology companies in the Central Texas area. With Dell, Samsung and HP in close proximity to the District, a partnership for a P-Tech/ECHS program would be an asset to our students, who could begin working in high-wage technology careers directly after graduating the program.
Solution: Pass legislation that would support funding for P-Tech/ECHS models
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.
Solution: Do not pass legislation establishing a voucher program without transparency and accountability to taxpayers.
Keep up to date with education bills that were discussed in the Legislature.
- TASA Bill Tracker (Texas Association of School Administrators)
- Governmental Relations (Texas Association of School Boards)
Contact Your Legislators
Round Rock ISD is represented by three State Representatives and two State Senators.
To learn more about ballot issues, please refer to the following web sites for information: