For the first time ever there is a bill filed in each chamber of the Texas Capitol that would provide much needed additional funding to public charter schools and their students. We previously reported Senator Donna Campbell filing SB 457. We now also have HB 1269 filed by Representative Jason Villalba.

Public charter schools are the fastest growing public school system in the state with student enrollment at 247,236, increasing at more than six times the rate of school districts per year. The demand from Texas families for a charter school seat is also growing with more than 141,000 students on a waiting list. Since charter schools receive zero in facilities funding they cannot meet families’ demand for a public charter school seat and they must use classroom dollars for bricks and mortar. Charter schools receive $1400 less per student on average than other public schools. Much of this gap can be attributed to the lack of facilities funding.

Rep. Villalba’s HB 1269 works to close the funding gap between public schools by providing all public charter schools with an additional, estimated $280 per student. Further, if the school achieves a certain academic performance level, it is eligible to receive further supplemental funding. Should the public charter school choose the supplemental funding, the public charter school may only expel a student for a reason expressly allowed in law and must provide a disciplinary alternative education program or juvenile justice alternative education program, as applicable.

HB 1269 also proposes to amend the law regarding the notification of a new charter school campus. It limits the required notification to a three-mile radius of the address or intersection at which the proposed charter school is likely to be located. Further, it would implement a second notification requirement: by the 30th day after the date on which property is acquired that is intended to serve as a public charter school, notice of the property’s address must be provided to the aforementioned three parties.

A final important highlight of HB 1269 is that it includes language geared towards facilitating public charter schools and school district partnerships. Such partnerships are not only wins for public charter schools and schools districts, but most importantly, for public school students.

With a funding bill in each chamber of the Texas Capitol, the momentum continues to grow to end the wait list as well as provide equal funding for public charter school students. The Texas Charter Schools Association appreciates Representative Jason Villalba for his support for public charter schools and we look forward to working with him to ensure all students have access to a quality public education!

This week, representatives from the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) and member charter schools participated at a hearing held by the state Senate Committee on Finance. The Committee’s focus for this hearing was on public education funding.

TCSA wants to recognize Michael A. Horne, Superintendent of KIPP-DFW; Kathleen Zimmerman, Executive Director of NYOS Charter School; and Traci Berry, School Superintendent of the Goodwill Excel Center Free Public Charter High School for their commitment to students and quality charter schools.

These charter school leaders took out time from their campus and students to attend the hearing all day, patiently waiting to speak on behalf of their students. Each spoke before Vice-Chair Hinojosa and Committee Members and made their case for funding public charter schools. Committee members even asked these charter leaders some questions, which is a rarity when there’s a long line of witnesses wanting to provide public testimony.

TCSA’s Executive Director David Dunn also provided public testimony on behalf of all public charter schools and advocated for facilities funding. His testimony featured legislation filed by Senator Donna Campbell, SB 457 that would provide public charter schools $700 per student for facilities funding. This would help provide relief to charter schools that not only use operational funds for classroom instruction, materials, teacher salaries, but also for the rent/mortgage. Separately, SB 457 would also help provide additional seats in the classroom for the more than 140,000 students on a waiting list.

TCSA wants to thank charter school leaders for coming to the Texas Capitol and sharing how funding impacts their campuses and students. We also thank the Senate Committee on Finance for the opportunity to voice our concerns related to the equitable funding for students at public charter schools.