Superintendent's column: VISD keeps eye on education legislation
Along with the privilege of serving this wonderful community, our Board of Trustees and VISD family members recognize our responsibility to provide the best opportunities for our students, staff and community. One way to accomplish this goal is to provide a continuous flow of communication and decision making that is based on integrity and transparency. At our Thursday board meeting, Diane Boyett, our director of communications, presented the following Legislative issues that are currently affecting VISD and school districts across Texas:
In regards to school funding, the House has voted to restore about $2.5 billion of the $5.4 billion in funding that was reduced in the previous biennium. The Senate budget appropriates about a billion less than the house version and is now in a conference committee.
We are also closely monitoring what is happening with House Bill 5, which overhauls high school testing and graduation, as it moves through the Senate. Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee approved the bill with some amendments. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
On the topic of school vouchers, the House voted overwhelmingly against using tax dollars in any form to support a voucher or tax diversion program for subsidizing a student enrolling in a private school. Speaker Joe Straus has said repeatedly that he would not allow a voucher bill to reach the floor unless there was clear evidence that a majority of the House members favored it. The Senate Education Committee chairman, Dan Patrick, continues to push for this legislation, and the Senate Education Committee requested a full Senate vote on the Texas Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Another piece of legislation that is pending in the Senate Education Committee is related to the sunset provisions of the Texas Education Agency and the abolition of the State Board for Educator Certification. In the Senate committee last week, 39 amendments were attached. What happens after Senate floor action (and in conference committee) remains to be seen, and, of course, it still has to garner the signature of Gov. Rick Perry.
There are hundreds of bills that are pending in committees and hundreds of others that soon will be moving across the House and Senate. TASB, TASA, The Equity Center and organizations like Raise Your Hand Texas have converged at the Capitol to hold legislators accountable to the school children of Texas. There is just less than a month and a half to go until the May 27 adjournment, and that is quite a long time in terms of what can happen in Austin.
We want to publicly thank everyone who turned out for the Raise Your Hand Texas community dinner. It was a strong statement from Victorians that they have an interest in and a commitment to the children in our schools. Please rest assured, no matter what the outcome is in Austin, the VISD remains steadfast in our commitment to teacher quality, enhancing classroom support and accelerating student achievement.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.