Happy New Year!
As you all welcome your students and families back to school for the spring semester, TCSA welcomes back the Texas Legislature for the 85th Legislative Session. For 140 days, beginning on January 10th, our attention will turn towards Austin where our state’s lawmakers will deliberate various issues with significant implications for public education and specifically, public charter schools.
Nearly 250,000 students currently attend a public charter school. Alarmingly, our latest survey of wait-listed students indicates there are over 140,000 students waiting for a seat at a public charter school. The number of students who cannot attend a public charter school of their choice continues to grow year after year.
To address this ever-increasing demand, TCSA’s legislative priorities for this incoming legislative session focus on providing much needed resources to public charter school students, as well as providing an opportunity to expand public charter schools so that those wanting to attend have a seat. Our most significant legislative priority that would address both of these needs is to provide state funding for public charter school buildings. Charter schools receive zero state funds to support their facilities, meaning they must use funds intended for the classroom to pay their leases, their mortgages, etc. The lack of facilities funding is the biggest barrier to meeting families’ demand.
Though the legislative session has not yet started, two other significant issues for charter schools already have started the legislative race: Rep. Jim Murphy pre-filed HB 382 and HB 467. HB 382 would allow for an exemption from property taxes for a building leased by a charter school. HB 467 would increase the access of the Permanent School Fund Bond Guarantee Program (PSF) for public charter schools. Both of these bills have something in common: they would save literally millions of dollars of public funds that can be directed back into the classroom or used to grow classroom seats for waitlisted students. We thank Rep. Murphy for recognizing the need to support Texas families and their choice to attend a public charter school. We will call upon you throughout session to support Rep. Murphy as he works to get these two bills across the finish line.
To that end, we must have our supporters engaged throughout the entire legislative process. Today, sign up for action alerts to receive alerts on pro-, as well as anti-, public charter school legislation.
Also, make our Bills to Watch page one of your web favorites so that you can check it on a regular basis. Lastly, make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s 140 days…ready…set…GO!