HB2 Position Statement
The Plano Independent School District is depending upon the state government to ensure that public education is adequately funded throughout the state and that districts are provided with appropriate funding to enable them to recruit and retain excellent teachers as provided in Judge Dietz’s ruling in September 2004. He very aggressively stated that the school finance system is under-funded, and that districts need more money in order to help students meet the new state and federal standards.
Additionally, the state has an obligation to guarantee an equitable and effective means of funding the education of our public schools, while allowing districts to determine their unique needs and fund them accordingly under local control. It is appreciated that new money is made available in HB2, however these funds come at a high price to local districts and do not offer a solution to our current financial dilemma. In reviewing this proposed legislation, it is not in the spirit of our cry to fund public education at an adequate level for all Texas children.
The plan provided in HB2 brings resources to districts, but there are strings attached that mandate spending and new programming. Instead of allowing districts to assess their current needs, this bill provides new money on the state’s terms, while local districts grapple with compromised programs, strapped budgets, and the complications that have arisen due to an inadequate funding system. In fact, the current funding system allows Plano ISD to retain $1.03 per $100 of assessed property value. HB2 will reduce that amount to $1.00 per $100 of assessed property value with any additional monies being subjected to state governance instead of the discretion of the local districts. New resources provided in HB2 do not solve Plano ISD’s financial crisis and further erode local governance of districts.
Strings Attached to Access to New Funds
This plan introduces an incentive pay plan for teachers based on individual educator performance, which does not promote a team approach to teaching today’s students. It is insinuated that Texas teachers are not doing a good job and undermines the statistics that show incredible growth in the achievement of school children when compared to other states.
Campus performance v. individual performance
The leadership of Plano ISD contends that incentives should be based upon campus performance instead of individual achievement, which will likely be divisive among teachers who should strive collectively on behalf of their students.
Conditional funds with strings attached
HB2 offers conditional funds that reduce Plano ISD’s flexibility to place dollars where they are needed.
Erosion of Local Control
School board elections, traditionally held each May to elect trustees to three-year terms, will be required to join general elections in November which expose school governance to partisan politics.
Additionally, terms of school board members will be extended to four-year terms, which could compromise a prospective community leader’s decision to agree to a more lengthy commitment.
Plano ISD will have to financially participate in the cost of a larger election process by joining the general election timeline, which will ultimately cost more than hosting a traditional local election in conjunction with the city government.
Plano ISD will be required to hold an election to allow voters to approve every two-cent increase of local enrichment money. This is an extreme measure of loss for local funding control and will be an added election expense to the district.
Proposed legislation in HB2 will require districts to observe a start date for the school after Labor Day and an ending day on or before June 7. If this legislation passes, Plano ISD will not be able to offer the school community the traditional fall, winter, and spring breaks, and will compromise other calendar features that are long-held traditions in the district.
Obligation for state mandates/programs shifted to local districts: The state has repealed their obligation to provide pass-through funding of the $1,000 guaranteed to teachers, yet now requires local districts to provide the same amount using local dollars with no additional funding mechanism to offset the new cost.
In summary, HB2 does indeed offer new funding opportunities to districts, but the many constituents may not be aware of the extreme local cost to district’s already in a compromised financial state. The State of Texas has a responsibility to provide an excellent education for all students and to allocate the necessary funding. There has been an attempt to bring new funding dollars to Plano ISD, but this bill comes at too high of a price to our school community.