Austin ISD legislative priorities include school finance, mental health and safety support in 2019

Austin ISD trustees approved a document that outlines its legislative priorities on Aug. 27.

Austin ISD trustees approved a document that outlines its legislative priorities on Aug. 27.

After discussing legislative priorities June 11 and again at a board workshop Aug. 13, the Austin ISD board of trustees unanimously approved a document outlining where the district stands on key issues anticipated at the 86th Texas Legislature next year. The document was approved with the Aug. 27 consent agenda.

Reforming the public school finance system, including the recapture program, was the top priority on this year’s list. According to the district, a new system should be more simple and transparent; the new system should keep all local property taxes in the public education system; it should more accurately reflect the current cost of education; and it should be more frequently updated and evaluated based on current conditions.

Trustee Edmund T. Gordon said June 11 the existing state finance system is “criminal” and that he was “not sure it could get any worse.” He called for districts that are dissatisfied with the system to be more vocal and forthright with their comments to the Legislature in order to demand action.

At a June 11 meeting, Edna Butts, the district’s director of intergovernmental relations and policy oversight, said she continues to have hope the school finance system will be addressed. However, after working through the three prior sessions without much change, she said she is a little more cynical now than before.

“In some ways, [having legislative priorities] does help to bring awareness to subjects, for example, mental health,” she said. “It allows us to tell those [success] stories. We have to keep trying.”

Receiving state funding for campus-based mental health services for students is again a priority on this year’s list.

“[Mental health] is a priority,” Butts said. “We’ve taken Tracy Spinner [AISD assistant director of comprehensive health services] and Dr. Elizabeth Minne to the Capitol to tell [legislators] what we’re doing and to ask that funding be provided. That funding that currently goes to other agencies be directed to school districts because of the wonderful work that we’re doing and the results that we’re seeing.”

Other district priorities include:

  • reducing the state accountability system’s reliance on standardized testing; improving safety in public schools;

  • funding adequate transportation for all districts;

  • increasing local control and flexibility;

  • funding for full-day pre-K;

  • funding for special education; and

  • leveling the playing field between public schools and charter schools.


The district document also states that it is opposed to legislation that would divert public school funding to private or charter schools, would create a new mandate that is unfunded or infringe on local control, or that would penalize districts that maintain a fund balance.


MOST RECENT

The new 35-story building overlooks Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Workers celebrate topping out of Austin 'sailboat building' concrete structure

Workers who contribute to the construction of the Block 185 building celebrated topping off the structure, a big milestone for the development project that began in 2019.

A system to identify at-risk Austin Police Department employees has not been effective. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Audit finds Austin police system to flag at-risk officers is failing

Austin's city auditor and police chief agree the police department's computer program to identify at-risk officers is not fulfilling its mission.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

Opening day at Q2 Stadium
US men’s soccer team to visit Q2 Stadium this fall

The U.S. men's national team will host Jamaica for a FIFA World Cup qualifier game on Oct. 7.

Capital Metro is hosting a series of virtual meetings to hear feedback from the community on the latest Project Connect designs. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Capital Metro seeks community input on latest Project Connect design

Want to have your voice heard about Project Connect? Tune in to the upcoming virtual meetings.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Z'Tejas margarita
Where to celebrate National Tequila Day this year around Austin

From mezcal bars to frozen margarita specials, here is a list of places to celebrate National Tequila Day on July 24.

Photo of men at a restaurant
New American restaurant 1417 launches on South First, plus more openings in South Austin

The bistro comes from the team behind downtown French gastropub Hopfield's.