School finance and teacher retention are two focuses among Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s priorities for the 88th legislative session.

The list of priorities were approved in a 4-2 vote during the board’s Feb. 13 special meeting. Trustees Becky St. John and Coley Canter voted against the draft, while trustee Jorge Rodriguez was absent from the meeting.

A draft released by the district for the Jan. 23 meeting included a point that advocated to keep public funds in the Texas public education system, rather than going to vouchers or voucher mechanisms. School vouchers, also known as education savings accounts, allow parents to use taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay for private or charter school tuition, according to the State Board of Education.

“We should be actively advocating against anything that takes money out of the public school system, that takes money out of our taxpayer’s pocket and drives up the cost for our taxpayers,” Trustee Becky St. John said.

The State Board of Education originally included a similar point in its 88th session legislative priorities approved in November, but the board voted during a Feb. 3 meeting to remove the language from its list.

The following issues are top priorities for GCISD in the 88th legislative session, which began in January.

School finance
  • Support attempts to lessen the burden of recapture, also known as Robin Hood, on local communities, and eliminate recapture on any voter-approved tax rate increase to allow school districts to keep 100% of funds generated from voter approval.
  • Support adequate and equitable school finance systems that raise the base allotment to account for inflation and cover the cost of current and future state mandates.
  • Support an increase in funding, but base funding on the school district’s enrollment rather than attendance. This better reflects how public schools are staffed and operated.
  • Support an increase in funding for Gifted/Talented, or GT, allotment and special education costs to cover the cost of the identification of students, filling critical positions, diagnostic testing and administrative support.
  • Advocate for the truth-in-taxation regarding the relationship between rising property values and the corresponding decline in state funding, and keep public funds in the district.
Assessment and accountability
  • Support reforming the state accountability system to one that minimizes the impact of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness as the primary factor, while recognizing the strengths and uniqueness of each student, school and district. This would more accurately demonstrate the effectiveness of a school or district.
  • Support modifying requirements for all students to test only online, and allow for a paper test when it aligns with routine accommodations on a student’s Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan.
Teacher recruitment and retention
  • Support financial aid and other programs to incentivize entering the profession.
  • Support increasing educator and staff compensation, and improving retirement benefits.
  • Support increasing the Teacher Retirement System pension from the state to ensure the system is appropriately and adequately funded to provide a sustainable retirement program for public education employees.
School safety and security
  • Support the allocation of funds for new security measures on campuses, including equipment, infrastructure, personnel and counseling to protect staff and students.
  • Support incentives for districts that proactively implement security enhancement measures not yet required by the state, but contribute to better securing our schools.