Recent News

Fast Growing School Districts Highlight Challenges, Opportunities Facing Public Schools

New Video Series Shines a Light on the Importance of State Investment in Fastest Growing Schools, Support for Teacher Workforce, Public Education

Texas’ fastest-growing school districts are raising their collective voice to highlight the challenges and opportunities facing Texas public schools, teachers, and students. Fast Growth School Coalition is launching a new video series to educate and engage public school parents, local communities, and state leaders to support smart investments in Texas public education and schools.

“Fast Growth School Coalition’s member districts experience tremendous population growth as businesses relocate or expand into these communities, creating both challenges and opportunities for these destination districts,” said Dr. Greg Smith, Executive Director of Fast Growth School Coalition and a former Clear Creek ISD superintendent. 

“Our school districts want to make clear the importance of investing in and supporting public education broadly and its fastest growing school districts specifically,” added Smith. 

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Show Me the Money!

Each January in an odd-numbered year, the Texas Legislature plays the role of Rod Tidwell and Comptroller Glen Hegar could be our Jerry Maguire. “Show us the money” takes the form of the much anticipated Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE), the comptroller’s best estimate for how much money state budget writers have as they write the Appropriations Bill to fund Texas government - including our public schools - for the next two years. 

On Jan. 9, just prior to the Legislature gaveling in, Comptroller Hegar announced the state would have $188.23 billion of revenue available for general purpose spending. That’s about a 26% increase from the previous biennium (2022-2023), and it provides a historic opportunity for once in a generation investments in education, infrastructure, workforce, and tax relief. 

Let’s break that $188.23 billion in revenue down further to drill down into what monies state lawmakers have to fund key programs, including our fast growth school priorities:

  • $7.34 billion will be transferred to the State Highway Fund 

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Fastest Growth School Districts Call on Texas Legislature to Stand Up for Public Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         Contact: Jennifer Harris

FEB. 15, 2023 [email protected] | 512-773-7168

Fastest Growth School Districts Call on Texas Legislature to Stand Up for Public Schools

AUSTIN, TEXAS-The following statement on the Texas Legislative Session and fast-growing school districts’ legislative priorities should be attributed to Dr. Greg Smith, Executive Director, Fast Growth School Coalition:

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Embedding Employers in Education

Recently, I attended a ceremony in my school district—Alief Independent School District in Houston, Texas—where approximately 60 high school students of different ethnicities, cultures, and nationalities were recognized and inducted into the 2022 National Technical Honor Society (NTHS). The NTHS honors high school students across the United States who demonstrate competencies in a specific curriculum or program of study that aligns with the needs and expectations of the local workforce. What made the induction ceremony even more special was that the students take a significant number of courses in the workforce field that best matches their desires and skills.


Read the Full Article 

All article credits go to American Compass

FGSC Statement on Uvalde School Shooting

AUSTIN, TEXAS--The following statement regarding the tragedy at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, should be attributed to Dr. Greg Smith, Executive Director, Fast Growth School Coalition:

“Teachers, school administrators, parents, and students in Uvalde are grieving after the senseless deaths at Robb Elementary, and our hearts ache for them. 

During this horrific tragedy, our coalition member school districts stand with Uvalde ISD and their larger community. No parent, student, or educator should endure the tragic loss of life and the physical and emotional wounds so senselessly brought upon these families.”

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FGSC Corporate Partner Profile: BOK Financial Securities, Inc.

FGSC Corporate Partner Profile: BOK Financial Securities, Inc. 

Fast Growth School Coalition’s corporate partners are valued partners in our work. Their support of fast growth schools across our state and their support of public education is invaluable. We’re shining a light on the companies and organizations that have stepped up to support the coalition as platinum corporate partners, including BOK Financial Securities, Inc. (BOKFS):

BOK Financial Securities, Inc. (“BOKFS”) is the wholly owned, broker-dealer subsidiary of BOK Financial Corporation, a publicly traded, regional financial services corporation. As a full-service broker-dealer, BOKFS provides investment banking (bond underwriting and financial advisory services) and other capital market services for municipal entities throughout Texas and other strategic states within our regional footprint, with a special emphasis on Texas public school districts. 

In addition to our work as a financial advisor or bond underwriter, many Texas public school districts know BOK Financial Securities as the provider of the State funding template. Better known as “Omar’s Template,” this tool is used by virtually every district to calculate their State funding and special program allotments as well as assist with setting a district’s annual tax rate. We do this as a service for all school districts at no cost.

Given burgeoning student populations, fast-growth school districts find themselves being much more active in the bond markets to meet their need for additional facilities. Moreover, these school districts tend to be in greatest need of bond and financial assistance, with each district facing its own unique set of circumstances. We provide meaningful assistance, advice and guidance to these districts, earning the right to be considered a trusted financial partner.

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WhataShield: FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

WhataShield: FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

As part of our Fast Growth School Coalition platinum corporate partner profile series, Dr. Greg Smith invited Steve English, Founder of WhataShield, to talk about his company’s work with public schools and the company’s support of Fast Growth School Coalition.

Dr. Greg Smith, FGSC: Steve, as one of our newer corporate partners, why don’t you tell us a little about WhataShield?

Steve English, WhataShield: WhataShield understands the challenges facing school districts today, and we are passionate about providing solutions to exceed your expectations, meet your needs, and ensure long term protection of what you value the most.

WhataShield provides school districts with a simple program to protect students and teachers, your facilities, and your overall facility assets. Increasing operational efficiency at every turn saves the school district greatly. With a proactive approach to long term protection (one application annually), WhataShield Titania is the next wave of care versus the short term disinfecting methods that have been deployed in recent years. WhataShield Titania is an all-in-one product that protects the air and surfaces with one application annually.

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Local Senate Government Committee Hearing

Local Senate Government Committee Hearing
April 20, 2022

The Senate Committee on Local Government met on April 20 to hear invited and public testimony on interim charges related to bond elections and ballot language. The hearing notice can be found here.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.

Opening Comments

  • Chair Paul Bettencourt - Are taking some public testimony later in the day, first have the ballot language interim charge

Ballot Language: Study the development of the language used for constitutional amendment and local ballot propositions. Recommend changes to make ballot propositions more easily understood by voters.

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Huckabee - FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

Dr. Greg Smith, Executive Director, Fast Growth School Coalition: As part of our Fast Growth School Coalition platinum corporate partner profile series, Dr. Greg Smith asked the team at Huckabee, one of our founding FGSC corporate partners, to share an update on their work in Texas and with fast growth districts. 

Josh Brown, AIA, President, Huckabee shared some background on the work they do all across our state. Here he is in his own words: 

Huckabee has exclusively served Texas public school districts for 54 years. We know Texas school construction, we understand the challenges and opportunities faced by public education, and most importantly, our team is passionate about ensuring the success of all students through our work with our school district partners.

Huckabee is an architectural / engineering firm. We have five offices in Texas plus the only educational research center in the state, Learning Experience Labs, at Baylor University. We offer services that focus on education and create a holistic approach to planning, design, construction, and more. These include: architectural and engineering services, structural engineering, facility assessment, long-range and master planning, community engagement, branding, interior design, furniture coordination, safety and security planning, environmental graphics and wayfinding, cost estimating, jurisdictional review, and construction administration.

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College Board - FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

Fast Growth School Coalition continues to shine a light on our platinum corporate partners with our ongoing profile series. For this edition, we’re learning more about the College Board and its relationship with fast growth schools.

FGSC’s Dr. Greg Smith sat down with Jill Schott, Senior Director of State and District Partnership at the College Board

Dr. Smith: What does your company do and how important is it to your business to connect with fast-growth school districts?

Jill Schott, College Board: College Board’s mission is to connect students to success and opportunity. Our K-12 programs include the SAT Suite of Assessments and Advanced Placement. It’s important for us to connect with fast-growth school districts 

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Huntington - FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

As part of our platinum corporate partner profile series, Fast Growth School Coalition’s Dr. Greg Smith recently sat down with Ryan O’Hara, Head of Texas Public Finance with Huntington Capital Markets to talk about Huntington’s work in Texas, its relationship with fast growth districts and their support of our FGSC coalition. 

Texas K-12 financings are a Huntington Capital Markets specialty. Since 2009, HCM has served as underwriter on approximately 220 Texas school district transactions, totaling $10.3 billion in par amount. Our Texas bond underwriting/commitment desk and dedicated professionals, combined with our overall public finance experience and exceptional ability to underwrite and distribute Texas K-12 municipal bonds, makes HCM uniquely qualified to serve as an underwriter for FGSC districts’ bonds.

Dr. Smith: How important is it to your business to connect with fast-growth school districts and what sets HCM apart in your industry?

O’Hara: What distinguishes HCM from our competitors is our in-depth coverage of second- third- and fourth-tier institutional investors throughout the nation, providing access to underserved investors, potentially expanding a district’s investor base and driving down interest cost. This focus incorporating Tier II, III and IV investors distinguishes HCM’s distribution capabilities when compared to our regional and “peer” group competitors and provides our clients access to the broadest range of investors –facilitating our efforts to optimize pricing results, which is a vital part of FGSC districts’ tax rate management efforts.

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Forecast5 Analytics - FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

This month, as part of our Fast Growth School Coalition platinum corporate partner profile series, we’re turning our attention to the work and support of Forecast5 Analytics. 

Forecast5 Analytics, a Frontline Education Company, empowers education leaders to harness the power of their data for more effective decision-making. More than 2,100 public sector clients across the country are using Forecast5 tools to make more strategic, effective decisions related to financial planning and budget management; student performance, learning gap mitigation, and equity; resource placement and boundary evaluation; and other critical considerations—and enabling them to communicate more transparently with their stakeholders.

FGSC’s Dr. Greg Smith asked Jeff Carew, Director of Business Development for Forecast5 Analytics, what he sees as some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing fast growth districts, as well as the work his organization undertakes in fast growth districts across our state.

Dr. Smith: How important is it for Forecast5 Analytics to stay connected with fast-growth school districts?

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VLK Architects - FGSC Corporate Partner Profile

Fast Growth School Coalition’s Dr. Greg Smith wants to shine a light on the work and support of our coalition’s platinum corporate partners. He recently sat down with VLK Architects to discuss VLK’s long-running partnership with FGSC and what VLK considers challenges and opportunities facing fast growth districts.

VLK Architects is a full-service architecture, planning, and interior design firm dedicated to public education in Texas. Passionately serving the best interests of school districts and their students, we are proud of our 37-year history of delivering thousands of successful projects to clients around the state.

Here are portions of his conversation with Sloan Harris, CEO and Partner of VLK Architects:

Dr. Smith: What does your company do and how important is it to your business to connect with fast-growth school districts?

Harris: More than ever, Texas’s vigorous growth is driving both prosperity and challenging demands in our communities.

VLK is in lockstep with the priorities of fast-growth districts and with key data experts who assist community leaders to make the best decisions for the future. VLK’s expertise fuses innovative school design strategies with demographic projections, public involvement, operational capacities, and timelines for building. We’ve united an array of experts to craft processes that align curriculum and instruction, long-range facility and bond planning, and participant-based design to deliver tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of every district client. Across the state of Texas, we live where we work, and we are driven to creating the safest and most engaging learning environments that every young learner deserves.

Dr. Smith: Why do you support the Fast Growth School Coalition?

Harris: VLK Architects proudly supports FGSC’s mission to advocate for the advancement of Texas’s fastest growing school districts. We celebrate FGSC’s role in providing vital resources that sustain a compelling and unified voice for districts striving to meet community demand. FGSC’s work builds unity between fast-growth districts and creates opportunities to share knowledge and resources, and to co-create solutions that benefit every school district. VLK Architects endeavors to serve as a critical resource to fast-growth districts committed to delivering an excellent education to every student despite the challenges of significant growth and limited assets.

Dr. Smith: What do you see as the biggest challenges and greatest opportunities facing public education and fast growth schools today? What are some of the content, events, or products and services that may help them navigate Covid, their next bond election, or other aspects of managing the tremendous growth these districts see year in and out?

Harris: In public education, the challenges can be especially difficult for fast-growing districts in Texas. Perennial funding limitations from the state legislature is a profound issue, as is recent legislation affecting ballot language requirements for bond elections.

Encroaching charter schools are a qualified threat to the enrollment and state funding for an increasing number of districts. Other strenuous challenges stem from growing contentions between school boards and the communities they serve.

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FGSC Recommended Reading

“Cleveland ISD Needed Money. The State Sent Charter Schools Instead.”

The state’s fastest growing school districts are located in areas of rapid economic growth, business expansion, and significant population increases. Fast growing school districts must build new facilities to keep pace with their student growth, but over the years, the state’s portion of funding for new facilities has dwindled with some districts receiving little to zero in state dollars to keep pace with tremendous growth.

“During the last regular session of the Legislature back in the spring, [Superintendent Chris Trotter] asked lawmakers to grant him more flexibility in how he spends the school district’s money. He also lobbied the governor’s office to designate more state or federal funds to supplement local taxes. The Legislature allocated additional money for fast-growing districts, but not nearly as much as Trotter needed.”

Another challenge fast growth schools face is the result of rapid charter school growth, as Texas Monthly recently reported.

Texas Monthly’s Bekah McNeel digs into the challenges facing FGSC member district Cleveland ISD:

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Update on Federal School Infrastructure Efforts

State of Our Schools Report: A Look at Facilities and Funding

As a member of the BASIC Coalition, Fast Growth School Coalition is pleased to share the latest State of Our Schools 2021 Report. BASIC is s non-partisan coalition of public school advocates and allies who support federal funding to help modernize and build K-12 public school facilities. 

Public PK-12 school facility funding systems are highly local and decentralized, with no established federal interest or national data source on public school infrastructures. That’s where the 21st Century School Fund, the International WELL Building Institute, and the National Council on School Facilities -- all affiliated with BASIC Coalition - come in. Through an in-depth review of public financial data and field experience, this new report found a current facilities funding gap of $85 billion a year. 

While school districts have been spending about an average of $110.1 billion every year on maintenance, operations, and capital construction, this is falling further and further short, leaving school districts unprepared to provide adequate and equitable school facilities. Proposed federal investment in rebuilding America’s schools has the potential to close the capital investment gap by about 22%. 

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Congratulations to these three Fast Growth School Coalition districts for being selected as three of the 2021 Top 5 Honor Boards in Texas!

  • Dr. Susan Bohn of Aledo ISD
  • Dr. Martha Salazar Zamora of Tomball ISD
  • Dr. Eric Wright of Hays CISD 

TASA created the School Board Awards Program in 1971 to recognize school boards whose dedication and ethical service have made a positive impact on the schoolchildren of Texas. It is an excellent way for districts to recognize their hard-working, dedicated board members.

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.  

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Demographic Trends Across Texas and its Impact on Fast Growing School Districts

Demographic Trends Across Texas and its Impact on Fast Growing School Districts


Fast Growth School Coalition is pleased to welcome Bob Templeton of Templeton Demographics for our March Lunch and Learn. Leading a fast growth district creates opportunities and challenges. Templeton Demographics understands how municipal planning, unemployment rates, and economic development impact annual student growth. Bob will offer his expert analysis of the demographic trends driving a changing Texas, as well as how COVID-19 is impacting the state and its public schools for the near and long-term. Join us for Bob’s presentation and an opportunity for discussion. 


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RYHT: Money Intended for Education Should Stay in Education

Raise Your Hand Texas Testifies, "Money Intended for Education Should Stay in Education"

The federal government is providing billions in COVID-19 relief funding to public schools across the country. Texas initially received $1.3 billion in federal stimulus funding intended for our schools in the spring of 2020. However, our schools did not see any additional money because Texas instead diverted these funds to fill other state budget holes.

Now, another $5.5 billion in federal funds promised to our schools hangs in the balance.

The state should not use federal stimulus dollars that were meant for education to fill other holes in the state budget. Please share on social media with #FundTxEdRecovery. Learn more here.

Read Raise Your Hand Texas's Senate Finance Committee Testimony from February 22

State's Fastest Growing School Districts Call on Texas Lawmakers to Invest in Public Schools


Coalition’s Priorities Reflect Unique Challenges of “Destination Districts”

AUSTIN, TEXAS—As the Legislative Session gets underway in Austin this month, the state’s fastest-growing school districts call on state lawmakers to protect Texas’ historic investments in public schools and address chronically low state investment in fast-growth school facilities funding.

Fast Growth School Coalition represents the collective voice of the state’s fastest-growing school districts. The majority of new student enrollment in Texas public schools each year occurs in roughly just 75 of the more than 1,200 Texas public school districts.

The coalition’s legislative priorities reflect the unique challenges fast-growing districts face and broader public school policy concerns in light of COVID-19.

“Increasing state funding for new facilities to ensure our fast growth districts can meet the needs of their community remains a challenge,” said Dr. Greg Smith, Executive Director of Fast Growth School Coalition. “COVID-19 only adds to the budget challenges and financial concerns facing our districts and public schools all across our state.”

In addition to protecting the state’s historic investments in public schools last session (House Bill 3, 86th Regular Session), Fast Growth School Coalition’s legislative priorities also include:

•    Encourage investment in facilities funding: Adjust the “fast growth allotment” in public school facilities funding to ensure targeted funding serves schools where concentrated enrollment creates a disproportionate impact.
•    Support charter school transparency and efficiency: Require voter approval of a new charter within the ISD where it will be located and provide better school and public notification for new charter school construction.
•    Renew Texas’ commitment to local control: Support local control with uniform election dates. Amend ballot language that misleads voters and restore the notion of freedom with accountability.
•    Connect students, schools, and communities: Develop an omnibus solution to address the broadband access divide in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

A complete summary of Fast Growth School Coalition’s legislative priorities is available online.

“We strongly believe – and the economic data has shown – that money matters in public education and an investment in our state’s fastest-growing schools makes good economic sense,” said Dr. Smith.

Areas of rapid economic growth, business expansion, and significant population increases are where Texans can find fast-growth school districts.

“Not only do fast growth districts provide high-quality education, but they’re also driving Texas’ economy and recovery from the pandemic,” said Dr. Smith. “Texas’ fastest-growing school districts create and sustain jobs, drive new construction and infrastructure investment in local communities, and spur further business relocations and expansions.”

Dr. Smith, who most recently served as Superintendent of Clear Creek ISD, took the reins of Fast Growth School Coalition, effective Jan. 1. He replaces Dr. Guy Sconzo, who lost his battle with cancer last year.

“Dr. Smith is the right leader for our coalition during this especially challenging time for our state’s fastest-growing school districts. He’ll be a strong advocate for our coalition and public schools more broadly,” said Dr. Doug Killian, President of Fast Growth School Coalition and Superintendent of Pflugerville ISD.

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About Fast Growth School Coalition
For more than two decades, the Fast Growth School Coalition (FGSC, educates and advocates for investment in the state’s fastest-growing school districts to deliver the high-quality education Texas students and taxpayers deserve. For a complete list of fast-growth school districts, visit Follow Fast Growth School Coalition on Twitter, @FastGrowthTexas.

Media contact: Jennifer Harris, [email protected]