Press Contact: Josie Duckett
Statement by David Dunn: TCSA Achievements in the 81st Legislative Session
Charter schools across Texas united this legislative session under the Texas Charter Schools Association to achieve positive reforms. The Texas Charter Schools Association ("TCSA") was formed to accelerate student achievement in Texas by empowering and engaging high quality charter schools. During the 81st Texas Legislative Session, TCSA has unified and represented the diverse range of effective and quality-driven charter schools in Texas. Accomplishments during the 81st Session:
- House Bill 3646 codifies the funding stability that TCSA accomplished administratively with the TEA earlier this year, returning over 45 million dollars to our members. The new law creates a funding floor for charter schools that prevents their susceptibility to fluctuations in local school district tax revenue, which had been the situation under prior law. HB 3646 also eliminates the remaining three years of transition from resident district funding to statewide averaging. This acceleration will result in more money for charter schools next year.
- House Bill 3646 also creates a second wave of credit enhancement for charters. HB 3646 allows the Commissioner of Education to segregate a portion of the Foundation School Program, match it with funds from private philanthropy and ensure charters are able to get low or no-interest bonds for new construction or renovation. House Bill 3646 also permits recognized or exemplary charter schools to qualify as a virtual school offering web-based curriculum. As a virtual school, quality courses can be offered to students with full-time jobs. The bill allows charter schools to expand their course offerings in high level math and science.
- House Bill 101 achieves the dual credit tuition adjustment. HB 101 ensures that the hours for dual credit classes taken by a public high school student will not be counted against the 30 hour cap once a student enrolls in a four year college. We believe this will help encourage students taking dual credit courses while in high school to continue their studies at a Texas public college or university. TCSA and its membership thanks Senator Dan Patrick for leading the charge toward charter school reform in the Texas Senate and becoming a true champion. Patrick negotiated a compromise that successfully moved the bill out of committee, off the Senate floor, and through the House committee. However, the Texas House of Representatives could not finish the job, and Patrick's bill died in the final moments of session on a procedural point of order that could have been avoided.
The Texas Legislature did not raise the cap on charter schools, an issue that President Obama specifically called upon State legislatures to address. Potentially, the US Department of Education 'Race to the Top' funds are now jeopardized since Secretary Duncan has acknowledged he would only distribute money to states with proven legislative reform. Throughout this session there was bipartisan support for lifting the cap on charter schools in order to meet the growing demand in Texas. The charter legislation would have allowed the State Board of Education to authorize 10 additional charters each year (plus 2 for students with disabilities each year), streamlined the replication process for effective charters and eliminated the renewal process for effective charters. If passed, the bill would have benefitted the 90,000 kids currently in public charter schools across Texas, and the 17,000 sitting on waiting lists. In addition, equitable funding for public charter schools remains a vital issue for our membership. During the legislative interim, we look forward to working with our members schools to make sure they receive the fair and equitable funding they deserve. While we are greatly disappointed that the charter legislation never made it to a vote in the Texas House, we are optimistic that charter schools have joined together as one strong voice through the TCSA.
The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) is the leading membership organization of effective charter schools of all types, representing more than 100,000 students in 390 charter schools across Texas.