House pan­els OKs $1.6 bil­lion more for public ed­u­ca­tion,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Chang jchang@states­man.com Con­tact Julie Chang at 512-912-2565. Twit­ter: @juliechang1

The House Public Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee ap­proved a bill Tuesday that would give public ed­u­ca­tion an ex­tra $1.6 bil­lion over the next two years.

Un­der House Bill 21 filed by Rep. Dan Hu­berty, R-Hous­ton, most school dis­tricts would see a boost but be­cause of the com­plex school fi­nance sys­tem, some would ac­tu­ally see less money.

“When I first got elected to a school board over 14 years ago, it was un­der the ba­sis to try to change the fi­nance sys­tem in the state of Texas and to pro­vide a mean­ing­ful dis­cre­tion for our school dis­tricts. While we’re not there, this is a first good step,” Hu­berty said.

The Austin school district would re­ceive an ad­di­tional $11.5 mil­lion in fis­cal 2018 and $12.3 mil­lion in fis­cal 2019.

The bill would in­crease the ba­sic amount of money that school dis­tricts re­ceive by $210 per stu­dent to $5,350. School dis­tricts would re­ceive more money than they do now for ed­u­cat­ing spe­cial pop­u­la­tions of stu­dents in­clud­ing those who have dys­lexia and those who are learn­ing English as a sec­ond lan­guage. The bill also would in­crease fund­ing for ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses.

“The House will con­tinue to pri­or­i­tize this bill and oth­ers that im­prove ed­u­ca­tion for more than 5 mil­lion Texas stu­dents,” House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San An­to­nio, said in a state­ment.

The bill would cre­ate a $200 mil­lion “hard­ship pro­vi­sion grant” that helps school dis­tricts that are slated to lose hold harm­less fund­ing start­ing next school year. Hold harm­less fund­ing has helped more than 1,000 dis­tricts since 2006, when the state de­creased prop­erty tax rates by a third and pro­vided the money to com­pen­sate for that loss.

The full House next will con­sider HB 21. The boost in fund­ing pro­vided by the bill stands in stark con­trast to the $1.4 bil­lion in state sup­port the Se­nate has pro­posed cut­ting from public ed­u­ca­tion.

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