2005 Special Session on School Finance
Updates from Superintendent of Schools Doug Otto
July 21, 2005
House Bill 2 (HB2) has been released by the Texas Legislature for
public review at www.tasanet.org.
It is requested that you review this information and contact your
senators and house members to express your concerns regarding this
legislation. You may find Contacts
for Texas Government on this site.
Due to the complexity of this legislation and the interrelationship
with HB3, it is extremely difficult to determine the impact of this
legislation. We understand that HB2 has been separated from HB3
to the extent that, if the legislature passes HB2 and does not pass
HB3 (the conference committee has not come to agreement on the tax
bill), all of the non-financial requirements in HB2 will take effect
without additional funding for public schools. The finance provisions
would then be subject to the enactment of HB3, or similar legislation,
in a future special or regular session.
The impact of this legislative action would result in a deficit
budget for Plano ISD in 2005/2006. The current projected budget
for the 2005/2006 school year reflects an $11.6 deficit. Information
from Austin indicates that our deficit could be reduced via this
legislation, but not eliminated. Operations under any deficit budgeting
is unacceptable when debating adequate funding for public education.
“Lawmakers must understand that teacher salaries are always
priority in any district budget, but many other operating expenses
are never adequately addressed in legislation and we have continued
to function with decreasing funds. Maintaining a competitive salary
scale for the recruitment and retention of teachers, while also
supporting a full academic program with appropriate facilities requires
much more attention from the legislature,” said Superintendent
Please note the following provisions contained in the Conference
- Voter approval is required for any increase in local enrichment,
limited to .15 cents and accessed a rate of .05 cents per biennium;
with separate voter approval required each time.
- A three percent increase in funding is guaranteed in 06-07;
no guarantee in 05-06.
- Requires districts to use at least one percent of the district’s
total professional staff payroll to provide incentive payments
- Includes a 38% cap on recapture subject to 8% gain limitation.
All 41’s may choose an optional homestead exemption without
a penalty or recapture at 4% above entitlement.
- Increases teacher salaries by $2,500 on average. Note: Of this
amount, $2,000 on average in 05-06 ($1,500 across the board) and
an additional $500 on average in 06-07 represent the total $2,500
increase. These4 amounts appear to include any monies teachers
will be able to access for health insurance premiums. Also, these
amounts would be used to pay the cost of required locally developed
and statewide incentive programs.
- Provides funding for a longevity incentive of $1,000 to $4,000
annually for each year and educator teaches past the Rule of 80.
- Requires that districts spend at least 65% of available funds
(excluding debt service and federal funds) on instruction in all
curriculum subject areas.
- Moves school board elections to November and requires that
all schools operate on a calendar year that begins after Labor
Day and ends by June 7.
- Funds Proclamation 2002, expands Technology Immersion Project
and establishes an instructional materials allotment, a portion
of which must be used for Target Tech programs beginning in 06-07.
The real question is: How are school districts
expected to deal with the normal program costs resulting from inflation
and growth and overall staffing requirements, with all of the restrictions
imposed in HB2? HB2 fails to provide enough money to cover all of
the requirements mandated. School districts must consider the funding
beyond the first year and the requirements in HB2 will exceed resources,
both local and state.
Please call your Senators and House members today and express your
opposition and concerns with HB2! Contacts
for Texas Government are located on this "Advocacy for Change"
To view the Conference Committee Report on HB2, District Runs,
a side by side analysis, and the Fiscal Note, see www.tasanet.org.
July 5, 2005
Since our last communication regarding the Texas Legislature’s
special session on school finance, we are continuing to seek clarification
regarding the anticipated impact of Texas House of Representatives
Education Chair Kent Grusendorf’s amendment to House Bill
2, which passed last week at both the House and Senate levels.
Rep. Grusendorf’s amendment requires that 65% of school districts’
maintenance and operations budgets be restricted to funding "assessed"
“We continue to get mixed messages regarding the amendment’s
impact on school districts,” noted Dr. Doug Otto, Plano ISD
superintendent of schools and president of the Texas School Coalition,
which provides research, information and consultation regarding
school finance legislation. “We are still deeply concerned
that programs such as extra-curricular and fine arts courses and
our educational program as a whole, will be negatively effected
by the amendment.
“Everything from enrichment courses to foreign language,
fine arts and career education programs may be compromised, if funding
is limited to ‘tested’ subjects,” noted Dr. Otto,
who insists that these extracurricular courses are not only beneficial
but, are vital to students’ educational development.
While in Austin this week, Dr. Otto will seek clarification from
our local legislators, as well as those who authored the bill, on
whether these educational programs will be compromised by the amendment.
He will continue to keep the Plano ISD community apprised of these
clarifications via our eNews
and this “Advocacy for Change” website.
School Finance Court Case Update
Beginning Wednesday, July 6, oral arguments will be heard before
the Texas Supreme Court in a continuation of the West Orange Cove
school finance court case. The case culminated in September 2004,
when State District Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of plaintiffs,
entering an injunction shortly thereafter which gave the state one
year to address an inadequate school finance system. Plano ISD was
among the 300 school districts serving as plaintiffs in the case.
The Texas Legislature, which culminated its 79th regular session
in May, failed to adopt a new state school funding system. Governor
Rick Perry called legislators into the special session on school
finance in June. House Bill 2 and the amendment proposed by Rep.
Grusendorf are now going through conference committee review.
Dr. Otto and the Plano ISD Board of Trustees urge our school district’s
patrons to contact Rep. Grusendorf and local state legislators with
concerns about this most recently proposed amendment to the education
contact information may be found on this Web site.