FGSC's Dr. Greg Smith Testimony on HB 1525

Testimony Provided to House Public Education Committee on HB 1525

By Greg Smith, Executive Director of the Fast Growth School Coalition
March 23, 2021

Greetings Chairman Dutton and Committee.  I am Greg Smith; the Executive Director of the Fast Growth School Coalition and I am here to testify on HB 1525.

Thank you for taking the groundbreaking Huberty-Taylor Act, HB 3, and striving to improve it with HB 1525.  Today, I will visit with you about the improvement of the funds allocated under Sec. 48.111, otherwise known as the Fast Growth Allotment.  First and foremost, we are thankful that the 86th Legislature and TEA have provided resources and support to many of our fast-growing school districts across Texas even if that distribution was not always focused on the fast-growing districts it was intended to serve.  We are eager to work with this committee and TEA to improve the distribution of Fast Growth Allotment Funds so that those funds go to districts who are truly growing quickly over time.

Under the existing rules, the allotment left out at least 14 school districts that are fast growing over a long, sustained period.  Unfortunately, HB 1525 does not correct this.  So, districts like Klein, Northside, Cy-Fair, and Socorro, to name a few, are growing and building schools but are not in the mix to receive an allotment even though they check the box on long-term sustainable growth and merit the designated support.  

Here is an example: District A grew from 18 enrolled students in 2016-17 to 21 students in 2018-19.  Their final ADA was 18.205 students.  District B grew from 51,810 enrolled students in 2016-17 to 53,328 students in 2018-19.  Their final ADA grew by almost 1,000 students from the previous year.  Even though District A did not require a class-size waiver to accommodate its newest students while District B was planning to build its 5th high school to accommodate its enrollment growth, District A received money from the fast growth allotment in 19-20 and District B did not.  HB 1525 does not change this reality.  

Over the last three years, 517 total districts have qualified for the allotment; 240 of those districts have qualified in just one year.  In other words, almost half of the districts receiving targeted fast growth funding have qualified as fast growth for only one year.  While all 517 districts no doubt experienced growth, many scenarios do not represent the sustainable trends in growth that this allotment was intended to address, and that dilutes the efficiency of state tax dollars spent to address the unique issues facing fast growth school districts.  

Under the current language of HB 1525, the allotments for qualifying districts would vary, but the eligibility requirements would not change.  Districts not impacted by unique fast growth issues continue to be included and about districts that are facing those facility-related and staffing needs would still not receive a fast growth allocation.  

In closing we would like to work with you on this section of HB 1525 by encouraging the following steps:

•    Establish an enrollment floor.
•    Remove the use of a quartile system; this will ensure that districts that have facility-related and staffing needs are prioritized for funding purposes.
•    Replace the three-year period with a five-year period for average enrollment growth to focus the allotment on districts with stable, sustainable growth.  This also helps account for the anomaly of the unprecedented pandemic that may temporarily impact student enrollment.  
Our recommendations support your steps to ensure state investment into the fastest growing school districts throughout Texas that are important drivers of our state’s economic growth and well-being.  

Respectfully Submitted,
Greg Smith
Executive Director

Share this post:

Comments on "FGSC's Dr. Greg Smith Testimony on HB 1525"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment