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Legislative Session: AISD Testifies to Support Fuller Funding for Flexible School Day

SB 496 will permit districts to receive the same level of funding for the same number of instructional hours, regardless of whether a student attends classes five days a week.

 

This morning, Debra Ready, executive director of accountability, testified in support of the bill.


Good morning, Chairman Taylor and members.

My name is Debra Ready, and I am the executive director of accountability for the Austin Independent School District, representing the Austin ISD and Texas Association of School Boards.

I am testifying in support of Senate Bill 496.

In order to qualify for regular full-day funding, students must receive instruction five days each week (Monday through Friday) and for at least four hours per day.  However, some students face unique circumstances—perhaps they work or have family or childcare obligations—that make it impossible for them to attend school all five week days.  

The Austin ISD offers a program called Twilight School for students who cannot attend school Monday through Friday. Twilight School provides instruction in the evenings but for only four days per week, Monday through Thursday, and because Twilight School does not meet five days per week, the students are ineligible for regular full-day funding. 

There also are students who need only a few lagging credits in order to graduate. If their high school is on alternating block schedule, they may prefer to attend classes on either A or B days instead of every week day. However, again, because instruction is not being provided five days per week, Monday through Friday, the students are ineligible for regular full-day funding.

The Optional Flexible School Day Program was intended to provide an alternative funding structure for students who cannot attend classes Monday through Friday and thus are ineligible for regular full-day funding. However, under the Optional Flexible School Day Program, six hours of instruction are required to make a full day, whereas under regular funding, only four hours of instruction are required to make a full day. 

As a result, the student who attends school five days a week for four hours per day (20 hours per week) qualifies for five days of funding under the regular funding structure. However, the student attending school Monday through Thursday for five hours per day (still 20 hours of instruction) qualifies for only 3.3 days of funding under the Optional Flexible School Day Program.

SB 496 will permit districts to receive the same level of funding for the same number of instructional hours, regardless of whether the student attends classes five days a week. So, a student who receives 20 hours of instruction by attending four days per week will generate the same level of funding as the student who receives 20 hours of instruction by attending five days per week. 

In closing, this scheduling flexibility will become increasingly important as students pursue internships with businesses through House Bill 5 or for students who want to pursue an endorsement not offered at their home campus. 

Thank you for your consideration of this bill.


Watch the video (AISD testimony starts at 19:01).

Learn more about AISD's legislative priorities.