One week before the official end of the 87th Texas Legislative Session, Allen ISD officials presented an update of its legislative priorities in a recent Board of Trustees meeting.
Among the dozens of bills district officials have followed closely were primarily those relating to virtual learning and state funding. The most significant of the former category was HB 1468, a bill which would allow schools to create virtual instruction programs for students living within the district under certain conditions. The bill was passed by the Texas Senate four days before the end of the session, but did not clear the House of Representatives.
A Senate bill complementing this, SB 226, requires districts to administer teacher training in virtual instruction. The bill passed both chambers and is currently sitting on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who can sign or veto the bill by June 20. SB 348, which would allow parents to observe virtual instruction, is also awaiting governor approval.
A separate bill also pending Abbott’s vote or veto is HB 1525, a “clean-up bill” that reforms previous funding statutes from the last legislative session. Allen ISD Chief Financial Officer Johnny Hill characterized this legislation as a “Christmas tree bill” in that “every little thing under the sun gets attached to it.” Two reforms of particular interest in this bill, Hill said, are provisions requiring school districts to reserve a portion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds over the course of five years instead of three, and a $400 million cap for Formula Transition Grants.
While some bills are expected to get ratified, a Democratic walkout of the Texas House on Sunday night – which took place hours before the session’s midnight deadline – put a few key Republican bills in jeopardy, prompting Abbott to vow to veto a section of the state’s budget that funds the State Legislature. In doing so, Abbott signaled that he would call a special session.