Here’s what Cy-Fair ISD officials are asking of state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session

Legislative priorities in Cy-Fair ISD include school finance, transparency and local control, among others. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Legislative priorities in Cy-Fair ISD include school finance, transparency and local control, among others. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Legislative priorities in Cy-Fair ISD include school finance, transparency and local control, among others. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Cy-Fair ISD officials at a Nov. 5 meeting presented their priorities for the 87th Texas Legislature, which the board of trustees approved Nov. 9. The upcoming legislative session officially convenes in January, but state lawmakers began prefiling bills this week.

Following the passing of House Bill 3 in the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019, the Texas House and Senate agreed to invest $11.6 billion in public school systems. This allowed CFISD to provide salary increases and launch full-day pre-K districtwide.

CFISD Chief of Staff Teresa Hull said the district hopes to see the measures laid out in HB 3 maintained despite state budgetary constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think this is going to be a ‘do no harm’ session,” Hull said. “We’re just going to have to be prepared to run good defense and make certain that we’re able to maintain the level of funding that we currently have—all of the great things that we felt came out of HB 3, to see that that’s maintained and carried forward.”

This district is also asking legislators to consider waiving the state’s A-F accountability rating system for the 2020-21 school year. All districts and campuses in the state received a label of Not Rated for the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We all know we are in the middle of a pandemic,” Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said. “There are many challenges that our students are facing—many gaps in their instruction and their education—and we believe that this needs to be waived for the 2020-21 school year.”

Other legislative priorities covered school choice, local control, and safety and security measures. See the district’s full list of priorities below:

School finance

  1. Maintain the level of funding provided by HB 3 and prioritize the maintenance of a stable, predictable funding formula by:

    1. identifying additional state revenue sources and dedicate those sources solely to funding public education.

    2. increasing the basic allotment each biennium to parallel increased inflationary costs.

    3. increasing funding for all other special education instructional arrangements.

    4. funding local costs of state-mandated programs.



  2. Provide greater funding for facilities and eliminate the equalization components of each program.

  3. Provide funding to bridge the digital divide among K-12 students.

  4. Provide funding for educations in state funding, unreimbursed expenditures and the academic needs of students due to COVID-19.

  5. Remove the penalty for a local optional homestead exemption in the comptroller’s property value assignment.

  6. Level the playing field with charter schools by eliminating the small and mid-sized allotment that is not provided on the same basis to public school districts.

  7. Increase the state’s contribution toward health insurance.


Assessment and accountability


  1. Waive the accountability A-F rating system for the 2020-21 school year.

  2. Extend the deadline for completion of the Teacher Literacy Achievement Academy for campus principals and kindergarten through third-grade teachers from the 2021-22 school year to the 2023-24 school year.

  3. Eliminate the letter grade rating system and restore the Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable and Unacceptable rating system.

  4. Remove the expiration date of the Individual Graduation Committees.


School choice


  1. Oppose legislation that diverts funding from public schools to private schools.

  2. Support school choice that ensures uniform standards and requirements for all school systems receiving state funds.

  3. Oppose the expansion of charters into high-performing districts.


Transparency


  1. Maintain the present level of reporting requirements.

  2. Expect transparency and reporting requirements to be applied equally to public schools and others who receive state education funding.


Safety and security measures


  1. Provide adequate funding for effective implementation of health and safety measures, including mental health interventions.

  2. Maintain local control over the implementation of safety and security measures.


Local control


  1. Support local control on school start date without the use of the District of Innovation designation.

  2. Enlist community input and State Board of Education approval before the Texas Education Agency commissioner can approve new charter schools or expand existing charter schools.


Transportation


  1. Increase the percentage of reimbursement for transportation costs.

  2. Exempt school districts from paying toll fees.

By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


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