Dear Spring Branch ISD Family,
At the invitation of Senator Joan Huffman, Trustees Chris Earnest, Lisa Alpe and John Perez traveled to Austin with me and Associate Superintendent Christine Porter yesterday to meet with members of our legislative delegation and TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.
We are very grateful to Senator Huffman for reaching out to set this meeting. Legislators present included Senator Huffman, Senator Bettencourt, Representative De’Ayala, and Representative Hull. Members of their respective teams were also in attendance.
During the meeting, we shared our concerns about the current funding allocations for public schools, foremost of which is insufficient funding to account for the nearly 16 percent inflationary impact SBISD has experienced since 2019, the last time legislators provided an increase in the Basic Allotment. We asked why inflationary impacts are being addressed in other line items in the state budget, but not for public education.
We also shared our concerns that various education bills under consideration have strings attached that do not address the specific needs of our district or others. For example, safety and security dollars may be specifically required to be spent for fencing. In SBISD our fences meet current safety requirements.
SBISD requested local control over these, and any other funds allocated to school districts this session. We appreciate that both Senator Huffman and Commissioner Morath expressed support for districts to have flexibility in use of funds. We also appreciate Commissioner Morath affirming inflation has not been fully addressed in currently proposed funding models.
We sought clarity on the Senate’s proposed $2,000 teacher salary increase to understand whether it is a one-time payment or will be sustained. The response was this pay increase is currently written as a one time payment, which would necessitate that districts like SBISD assume the cost of this increase in the second year of the biennium, with no funding allocated to do so. The Senators agreed to review the legislation as their intent is for this cost to be funded by the state.
In addition to a thorough review of our budget and projections, we also addressed some misconceptions. For example, while reducing property taxes for our taxpayers does reduce our recapture payment, it does not provide any additional revenue to the district. We shared that while we are in favor of tax relief, removing our local optional homestead exemption may be necessary, along with the other items outlined in my email last week, if there is not a more sizable increase in the Basic Allotment.
We are very grateful for the time and attention our legislators and Commissioner Morath gave us yesterday. With only five weeks left in the 88th Legislative Session, and budgets now going to Conference Committee, we are hopeful that our messages were heard and our concerns will be addressed. We remain steadfast in our request for a $1,000 increase in the Basic Allotment to address inflation.
We are fortunate that Senator Huffman, Chair of the Conference Committee on HB1 and SB30 (the Appropriations and Supplemental Appropriations Bills), and Senator Bettencourt represent SBISD and have the power and influence to address the issues we brought forth.
We again thank our legislators for taking time to meet with us. We also express sincere thanks to our community for your sustained advocacy throughout this session. Your loud and proud SBISD voices have been effective. I will continue to keep you informed.
Our children are our bottom line.
Jennifer Blaine, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools