Last Thursday, I had a great visit with State Representative Todd Hunter in his Austin office during the special legislative session. This was a continuation of our meetings during the regular session. Representative Hunter, a staunch supporter of our community and especially Flour Bluff ISD, and I mainly discussed school finance. This topic has dominated the special session, just as it did in the regular session. Unfortunately, in the last ten to twelve years, school finance has been addressed with band-aid after band-aid, which has complicated it to the point that it desperately needs an overhaul. I have made this message very clear, and Representative Hunter agrees.
Although school finance will not get the overhaul it needs this session, HB 21 by Chairman Huberty, is a start. HB 21 removes several allotments that the state has passed down over the years and puts this money into our general allotment from the state. This does reduce some of the complication, but it only provides a small amount of new funding for our school district. The House passed HB21 the day following my meeting with Representative Hunter. Now, the Senate must pass it before it becomes law. There seems to be some concern over whether or not it will make it through the Senate. I fear that the discussion will become more political in nature and the bargaining will begin. When the discussion gets political, it hurts the children of our great state.
Local taxpayers are increasingly funding more of our school district each and every year. Property values go up; the local taxpayer pays more; and the state figures that we do not need as much from them to survive. Yet, we still have all of the mandates from the state that go along with that decreasing pot of money. The current special session is almost over, and we may not get any improvement in the way of school finance reform. If this happens, I pray that over the next two years the House and Senate can work together on reforming school finance. Representative Hunter agrees that this needs to be done, and I greatly appreciate all of his help this session. I have offered my assistance if there is any way I can help. Our children, staff, and community deserve it.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.