Texas educators testify for, against funding reform


    Tuesday, educators from across the state testified at the capitol in the on-going fight for more public school funding. They told lawmakers how HB 3, also known as The Texas Plan, will impact teachers and students in their communities. (CBS Austin)

    Tuesday, educators from across the state testified at the capitol in the on-going fight for more public school funding. They told lawmakers how HB 3, also known as The Texas Plan, will impact teachers and students in their communities.

    Many big-city districts support HB 3 because those districts collect more money on property taxes. HB 3 would allow those districts to keep more of that money by reducing their recapture payments to the state by 38 percent. However, some small, rural districts say The Texas Plan has unintended consequences for them.

    "This is the right thing at the right time for the students of Texas," said Doug Williams, superintendent of Sunnyvale ISD, east of Dallas. Williams said his district wouldn't get as much money as neighboring districts, but he could see the widespread benefit the bill has to offer. He added, school finance reform should be a collective effort.

    The Texas Plan increases the amount of money districts have to work with by increasing the Basic Allotment per student by $890. The Texas Plan also forces tax rates down by four cents statewide.

    "This is actually transformational. This is a huge plan that we've waited on for many, many years. It takes care of a lot of little details but it's also very flexible," said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

    Dallas ISD says The Texas Plan would give them an extra $96 Million.

    "Most of that money is going to go to employees," says Hinojosa.

    However, not everyone spoke in favor of funding reform. About 60 of the state's 1,000 district would be financially hurt -- not helped.

    "We're losing money because our tax rate is a lot lower than most folks," said Jason Jones, superintendent of McMullen County ISD. MISD -- south of San Antonio -- could lose close to a half million dollars in state funds. It's a big cut for a district with fewer than 300 students.

    "We're asking them to look at all of the schools and try to be fair to all of us," Jones said.

    Groups like the American Federation of Teachers and the Texas State Teachers Association expressed concerns about the bill's proposed merit-based pay raises. Both groups said they wouldn't even consider merit pay until teachers are better compensated across the board. Currently teachers in Texas make about $7,000 less than the national average.

    Taking the input from Tuesday, lawmakers will make revisions to HB 3 before sending it to the full House for consideration.

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