Key Dates

Tuesday, Jan. 10
Start of 85th Legislative Session

Monday, Feb. 27
Texas PTA Rally Day
8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Friday, March 10
Bill-filling deadline

Monday, May 29
Adjournment / sine die

Sunday, June 18
Deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott
to sign or veto legislation  

Legislative Priorities

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees adopted Legislative Priorities and Issues for the 85th Legislative Session that support:

  • reforming the state’s school finance system;
  • increasing local accountability and control; and
  • supporting specialized programming such as Pre-K programs and mental health services.

School finance reform

The school finance system has been described as “Byzantine” at best, and the Austin community shoulders much of the burden of a finance system designed in the 1980s. Austin ISD is projected to send $406.1 million in taxpayer dollars to the state in the 2017 fiscal year as part of the state’s recapture system. AISD is projected to pay almost $2.6 billion in recapture from fiscal years 2016–2020. By 2019, more than half of every dollar collected by the district will go to the state.

AISD is the single largest payer of recapture, representing approximately 13 percent of the total $2 billion collected by the state. The district’s legislative priorities and issues focus on changing the school finance formulas to allow more of our taxpayers’  dollars to remain in our and help our students.

Additional resources are needed to support a diverse student population in which:

  • Nearly six of 10 children in AISD are from economically disadvantaged homes.
  • For almost one in three, English is not the first language.
  • There are more than 94 languages spoken throughout the district.
  • One in 10 children is classified as having a learning or other disability.

Local control of accountability

Austin ISD supports repeal of the legislation requiring A–F grades for school and districts. Instead the state should require school districts to develop their own assessment and accountability systems based on general guidance from the state. Such an accountability framework would allow districts to innovate and customize curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of students and communities.

Also, the state should reduce the use of high-stakes, standardized tests, and instead allow districts to adopt multiple assessments that reflect greater validity and more accurately capture academic proficiency and growth.

Excellence in programming and services

Providing mental and behavior health services to adolescents at the first signs of emotional distress increases academic performance and lessens disciplinary issues. The legislature should support the district’s efforts regarding campus-based mental and behavior health services, and ensure that campus-based behavioral health counselors are admitted to insurance programs as in-network providers.

AISD is proud of the wide variety of academic options and support services it provides. The legislature should continue to support excellence in programming by expanding grant funding for high-quality Pre-K.