I spent Monday and Tuesday down in Austin, working on the four legislative priorities for Teachers for Texas. Everyone wanted to speak about SB 3. On Tuesday, the Pub Ed committee met to introduce their bill in response to SB 3. A quick SB 3 summary, would give classroom teachers and librarians $5,000 more a year. The biggest concern I had about SB 3 was the possibility for it to be taken away in 2 years. After speaking with the Legislative Aids about this bill and reading the bill would in fact make the $5,000 raise part of the education code and therefore would not be taken away unless specific action was taken by the legislature to do so. The status quo moving forward keeps the increase in place.
This money would go towards the base that the state pays, it is extremely important for rural districts that cannot afford to pay their classroom teachers over the state base. It is unclear if it would require larger districts to pass on the raise to classroom teachers and librarians or pocket the money.
HB 3, The Texas Plan is more of a school finance reform bill. It would be a more encompassing bill that will add more to school finance and place the responsibility to pay teachers with the district. It will add $140 million for recruitment and retention of teachers but does not give a clear raise to teachers. It will also deal with reducing Robin Hood, early childhood education and advancing student achievement. Overall it will add $9 billion in funding over the next two years to education. $6.3B of that is new dollars, and $2.7B is property tax relief that will go to schools in order to buy down local property taxes.
It is unclear what a compromise bill will look like, if this bill passes the house and moves on to the senate. The main goal is to give teachers more money, At this point I feel that more research into both bill is needed before developing an opinion. I do think that teachers want more money in their classrooms and they would like more money in their pocketbooks. Let’s hope that a compromise bill can accomplish this. It doesn’t look like the entire part of the $5,000 per teacher is likely to stay in the final compromise version, since the House seems set on also addressing more problems within the existing school funding formula. Our goal will be to ensure that whatever compromise is made includes as much money as possible directly into the classroom.
I will report back when more is known about HB3 or they develop a compromise with the Senate.