Admin

Legislative Priorities 2017 Session

capitol building

 

 

On Dec. 12, Mesquite ISD's Board of Trustees approved a resolution supporting the legislative priorities established by superintendents in Region 10. Those priorities can be found at www.texasstudentsmatter.com.

 

An Economic Development Strategy Cooperatively Conceived with the City of Mesquite

 

A-F Grading System

Advocate for a simple accountability system that acknowledges a performance based on a set standard.  

Academic distinctions should also be based on set standards, not based upon the performances of comparison campuses. Current structure for the A-F system will result in a certain percentages of campuses, and perhaps districts, that will be graded as F, whether they meet a passing standard or not.

  • A-F system does not support economic development and will adversely impact many communities and ultimately the state in terms of attracting businesses to areas of our state who are in serious need of attracting businesses.

  • Separating schools and districts by comparison groupings guarantees Ds and Fs, such as in the attendance criteria.

  • Many states that have tried A-F systems are now repealing them.

    • The Florida system only got better A results by changing the criteria.

    • In Indiana, the head of the state schools was found to have manipulated the data to ensure that a charter school he knew and liked was not labeled a C school.

  • Setting a standard that any school or district may obtain is a fair and equitable system.

    • Focus on measuring and rewarding student growth rather than punitive sanctions and labels

    • Reduce the emphasis on high-stakes tests, especially for grades 3-8

    • Ensure assessments are developmentally appropriate

View Dr. Vroonland's Video Message About the A-F Accountability System - Dec. 16, 2016:

 

 

Facilities Funding

Advocate for additional funding for the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA), IFA and an increase in per student allotment for NIFA so that districts can adequately fund new building projects for growth. 

  • State funding for debt service is now below 10% of total school district debt service annually.

  • State funding for debt service in TEA's legislative request is expected to decrease by nearly $310 million next biennium, or about 22%.

  • The yield per penny per student, $35, has not been changed since 2000. Therefore, less than half the students in the state of Texas are impacted by support from EDA.  In districts with lower tax values, like Mesquite, the local taxpayer is not capable of assuming the cost of managing facility's needs.  Lack of support from EDA, continued growth needs, replacement of old buildings, low property values and taxpayer earnings means we simply cannot access the facility funding dollars needed.

  • State support for debt service is restricted in its use.  Therefore, any additional state aid that results from improving the formulas would result in tax relief by lowering the tax rates districts otherwise would need in order to pay debt service.
     

School Finance

Advocate to restructure school finance to provide equity and adequacy in funding. 

Enact a transformational, top-to-bottom reform of the school finance system by developing a sustainable plan that provides for resources that promote educational excellence for all Texas students.

  • Advocate for a fair and equitable property tax system.
  • Currently, Mesquite ISD is approximately $1,000 behind the state average, which amounts to approximately 43 million dollars.

    Funding

It is a common misconception that school districts are gaining more revenue from tax dollars as a result of recent property value growth. Not true. There is an inverse relationship between taxes collected and education contributions from the state. Increased revenue to a district gained through local taxes is offset by a reduction in the amount of funding that district receives from the state. Rather than going to local districts for the purpose of education, the additional local tax dollars end up in the state's general fund to be used as legislators determine. Click the graphi to the right to see how this funding issue will affect Mesquite ISD in the coming years. Despite increases in enrollment and local property taxes, Mesquite ISD will see its funding decrease over time.

 

Vouchers

Advocate against the use of vouchers, educational savings accounts or any other system like it that removes dollars from the public school system for use in a private system.

  • The use of vouchers disenfranchises a large number of taxpayers as most taxpayers do not have children in the system and would have no voting mechanism for approving this distribution of their tax dollars (taxation without representation).
  • A voucher program would result in the expansion of state government in order to manage the system, resulting in more costs and larger state bureaucracy.
  • Homeschool parent option would be dangerous as the potential for fraud on the part of people in order to gain more money than they pay in would be large as there is no oversight/regulation of homeschools.
  • State pays $8,500 per voucher, whereas the average taxpayer pays significantly less than that.  With limited resources coming in this would result in significant impact on schools and other government services in order to subsidize people making the choice to attend a private school.
  • With roughly 5.5 million students in the public school system; 230,000 in the charter school system; and 310,000 in the private school system, the diversion of public dollars to this system is simply not in line with the supply and demand in the system (even if there are 130,000 seats in demand for charters as asserted by the association).
     

Workforce Sustainability

Advocate for increased funding, or targeted grant programs, for CTE programs and certifications in order to enhance work force pathways for students.

  • CTE programs build a work force for communities and the state to help attract business development.
  • CTE programs focus on areas of need in the workforce to attract business.
  • CTE programs prepare students for careers that enable them to support themselves.


TRS Health Care

Advocate for a more transparent program by including district representation in the negotiation phases for health care. 

Advocate for an opt out process for districts that can prove they can get a better insurance plan for their employees. 

  • These options would place pressure on the system to be more responsive to the needs of the employees and taxpayers by creating more competition, greater transparency and accountability.


Economic Development

Advocate for Chapter 313 to have standards set on district wage minimums, not county wage minimums. 

Economic development attracts business, growth, a healthy tax base and positively impacts public education.

  • It is the only major program for economic-development-related property tax relief that is available for school districts.  This is important because the school property tax is typically half the average taxpayer’s property tax bill.
  • It applies only to M&O taxes for operations.  Chapter 313 projects are fully taxed for I&S taxes for school district bonds.
  • Under the school funding formulas, a school district granting a Chapter 313 value limitation is viewed as “poorer” for state funding purposes, triggering increased state aid in order to offset the loss of M&O tax dollars.
  • A look at the Comptroller’s summary report will show that the program has generated substantial benefits in terms of increased capital spending in Texas.  A common concern is that many of these projects do not generate large numbers of jobs, despite the major amount of capital investment.  The major cause of this problem is that many of today’s capital-intensive businesses are heavily automated.