The Texas State Legislature meets every two years and each time they meet the impact on Texas public schools is significant. During this session, which starts January 8 and extends through May 27, our elected officials are anticipated to discuss school finance, teacher pay, and tax reform. At the Board of Trustees meeting on January 22, the RISD board members unanimously approved the following legislative priorities:
Finance: Public School Funding
Rockwall ISD supports allocating the full value of state public school funding to benefit public education and not be used to fund other state initiatives or decrease the state share of public school funding. Based on current state funding formulas, increases in local property tax values allow the state’s share of school funding to decrease while many taxpayers assume the rise in property tax values is benefiting public schools. Rockwall ISD is projecting that local property values will fund approximately 80% of the District’s budget in 2019-2020 and the state contribution will again decrease from 32% in 2018-2019 to 20% in 2019-2020. Rockwall ISD supports an increase in the basic allotment to improve and adequately support a public school funding system that considers student needs, district characteristics which include safety and security, all unfunded mandates, and adjusts for inflationary costs when determining appropriate levels of funding to meet state and local standards. Recruitment and Retention of High Quality Teachers: Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and TRS Pension Program
Rockwall ISD supports the continuation of the current defined benefit pension program for Teacher Retirement System members. The state, as promised, should provide financial stability for future, current, and retired educators by adequately funding the TRS pension and insurance programs to promote recruitment and retention of high quality teachers.
Assessment and Accountability: A-F District and School Rating System
Rockwall ISD supports the repeal of the A-F grading/labeling system which heavily relies on high-stakes tests (STAAR). In addition, RISD advocates that the state student assessment program be limited to only those assessments required to meet Every Student Succeeds Act federal requirements. RISD supports the development of a system empowering school districts to design comprehensive accountability that looks beyond high-stakes, multiple-choice exams to meaningful assessments that have value for students, parents, and teachers, as well as measures what each community deems important in promoting college and career readiness.
Finance: Vouchers, Taxpayers Savings Grants, Education Savings Accounts
With little or no academic or financial accountability to the state, taxpayers, or local communities, Rockwall ISD does not support any state voucher plan, tax credits, taxpayer savings grants, tuition reimbursements, or any program that diverts public tax dollars to private school entities.
Charter Schools and Accountability Standards
Rockwall ISD advocates for legislation that holds open-enrollment charter schools and boards of charter schools to the same transparency standards to which traditional public schools are held.