Senate Education Committee hears omnibus school safety package
Date Posted: 5/12/2023 | Author: Mark Wiggins
The Senate Education Committee met Thursday, May 11, 2023, to consider several bills, including an omnibus school safety package.
ATPE supported House Bill (HB) 3 by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), which was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville). Nichols combined elements of HB 3, HB 13, and Senate Bill (SB) 11 into an omnibus school safety package intended to provide funding and enforcement for school safety requirements.
The bill includes a school safety allotment that would provide $15,000 per campus and $10 per student in average daily attendance for school safety compliance. It would allow the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to assign a conservator for the narrow purpose of helping noncompliant districts achieve compliance with school safety standards. The bill would not require an armed person on each school campus.
ATPE opposed HB 2729 by Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine), which would remove the certification requirement for prekindergarten teachers. Early childhood education advocates also opposed the bill. The committee nonetheless voted 9-1 to send the bill to full Senate, with Sen. Jose Menendez (D–San Antonio) opposing.
ATPE submitted neutral testimony on HB 11 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston), which Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) announced would include many of the provisions of SB 9. In testimony, ATPE argued that educators need a permanent raise of at least $10,000 to significantly improve recruitment and retention. ATPE warned against incorporating problematic components of SB 9, such as the removal of the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) veto authority over the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC).
The rest of the agenda can be found here. The committee voted on pending business and advanced the following bills on which ATPE has taken action:
HB 1225 by Rep. Will Metcalf (R–Conroe), which would allow school districts to administer the STAAR on paper to any student whose parent requests it. ATPE supported this bill.
HB 621 by Rep. Matt Shaheen (R–Plano), which would create a temporary educator certification option for certain military service members. ATPE submitted neutral testimony on this bill in the House and worked with Shaheen’s office to ensure it would be temporary and not water down requirements for a standard certificate.
HB 1416 by Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney), which is the cleanup bill for last session’s HB 4545. ATPE supported HB 1416 and its companion SB 1261 by Rep. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney). Paxton substituted the Senate language into HB 1416.
HB 1959 by Rep. Candy Noble (R–Lucas), which would require a district to accept a transfer for a child of a peace officer. ATPE supported this bill.
HB 1707 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth), which would require municipalities to treat charters the same as school districts for the purposes of zoning and other regulations. ATPE opposed the bill, pointing out that while part of the public school system, charters are privately run and not subject to the same accountability and transparency requirements.
HB 1707 failed on a vote of 6-2, with Sens. Royce West (D–Dallas) and Menendez opposing. The bill failed to meet the minimum vote threshold of a majority of the 13 committee members, or seven votes.
Following the failed vote, Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels) asked to change her vote from aye to nay in order to move to reconsider the vote. Parliamentary rules allow a member of the prevailing side of a vote to offer a motion for reconsideration; however, Campbell had voted with the side that lost. Campbell’s tactic stunned West, who responded in disbelief, “I’ve never heard of that happening before.” Royce challenged the move on parliamentary grounds, prompting committee members to pause reconsideration of the vote pending further discussion.
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