Make significant investments that reflect the true cost of educating students
Lubbock ISD is not alone in facing significant increases in expenses for fuel, supplies, and other costs, as well as wage pressures, at a time when state investments in public education have stalled. For example, the Consumer Price Index has increased 12 percent since the Legislature last raised the Basic Allotment. Legislators should base state funding on a district's enrollment rather than Average Daily Attendance and index the Basic Allotment to inflation. A one-time adjustment to provide additional state funding would also help districts mitigate recent cost increases. Further, it is important not to create two parallel tracks of funding education, one with traditional school districts and one with charter schools. The rapid expansion of charter schools happens outside of public view or involvement and it undermines efforts to have an efficient system of school funding for all students.
Prioritize student safety by providing districts with adequate funding and flexibility to address local needs
The safety of the school environment remains a top priority for families and educators. Lubbock ISD’s increased safety and security measures were accelerated by the 2018 Bond and continue to be a primary focus of school operations. Increasing the School Safety Allotment (currently $9.37 per ADA) to $200 per enrolled student will help ensure schools are safe places to learn and grow. School leaders also need the flexibility to leverage those resources to meet the unique needs of their community. This change would allow districts further investment to enhance security as well as address mental and behavioral needs of students.
Strengthen efforts to recruit and retain qualified educators
Comparatively low pay and challenging working conditions have caused a spike in the number of teachers leaving the profession - or considering doing so - and have made it difficult for school districts to place a certified teacher in every classroom. Legislators can fortify the teaching workforce with a higher Basic Allotment, which would give local districts greater flexibility to address their most urgent needs, and by providing incentives for entering the profession.
Reform state accountability standards to better measure success
State accountability focuses almost exclusively on a single measure - the STAAR test. Texas schools need and deserve an accountability system incorporating diverse factors that parents care about and that truly reflect school performance. Assessments should be used as a diagnostic tool to inform instructional decisions that support individual students. The A-F accountability system should be modernized to include non-test-based factors and more career readiness indicators. Lawmakers should also amend HB 4545 to allow the school district to distribute resources appropriately for students most in need of intervention and acceleration.
Protect taxpayer dollars by ensuring the state only funds public schools
Private schools do not provide the same level of academic and financial transparency as public schools, nor are they held accountable to the state for student outcomes. Public tax dollars should not be diverted to fund private institutions which are not held to the same standards or any level of accountability to taxpayers. Doing so is not only a misuse of public funds, but also drains resources from local public school districts which stand ready to serve every student who resides in their boundaries and are charged with meeting each child’s individual academic needs.