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Around 120 education bills passed in 2019 | May 31, 2019 - 1:04pm

The 86th Session of the Texas Legislature adjourned Monday, May 27, concluding 140 days in Austin that were somewhat less dramatic than recent sessions. Thanks in large part to greater involvement by public education supporters, the 2018 elections affected several aspects of state policy, causing a shift away from some of the hot-button items of 2017 (such as private school vouchers). Better relationships between new House speaker Dennis Bonnen, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott helped with the “getting down to business” feel of the session. 

Legislature adjourns Monday | May 27, 2019 - 7:49pm

The Texas Legislature adjourned “sine die” Monday afternoon, concluding the 2019 legislative session. The top priorities for state leadership – the state budget (SB 1), school finance reform (HB 3), and property tax reform (SB 2) – were approved by both the House and Senate over the weekend.

Agreement reached on SB 12, TRS funding bill | May 25, 2019 - 11:34pm

The conference committee report for SB 12, the TRS funding bill, was filed on Saturday and should be voted on in the House and Senate sometime Sunday. (UPDATE: SB 12, along with SB 500, which provided funding for the bill, was approved by both chambers on Sunday.)

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday, June 11, signed HB 3 into law, calling it a “monumental moment” to “transform public education in the state of Texas.” The bill increases per-student spending, reduces property taxes and instructs local districts to use part of the new state money to raise pay for non-administrators.

The TRS Board of Trustees approved new premium rates for ActiveCare and HMO plans during its April meeting this week. ActiveCare premiums will increase between 3% and 9% with changes to maximum out-of-pocket limits and prescription drug costs.

As another school year winds down, teachers thinking about changing districts this summer need to be aware of the law regarding deadlines for resignation without consent.

TCTA congratulates five members who were named state finalists for the 2019 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards: JoLisa Hoover of Leander ISD, Katherine Miller of Wichita Falls ISD, Karen Naiser of Dickenson ISD, Ryan Piwetz of Port Aransas ISD and David Walker of Austin ISD.

TCTA congratulates District 17 Director Amy Drake who is among three Lubbock ISD educators receiving the Frank and Nancy Newton Excellence in Education Award in 2019.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath agreed to address the TCTA Representative Assembly during our annual convention this year. After his presentation, he graciously took questions from the audience.
 
One TCTA member asked if anything could be done to reduce the burden of TELPAS calibration. His response to TCTA Executive Director Jeri Stone, excerpted below, shows that TEA at his direction is actively pursuing efforts to reduce the burden of TELPAS calibration.

Krystal Contreras, a fourth-grade writing teacher at Cash Elementary School in San Benito CISD, was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during a Feb. 15 ceremony on her campus. Contreras, a TCTA member since 2015, is the only Texas educator receiving the national award this year.

Margaret Kelley, a special education teacher at Timy Baranoff Elementary in Austin ISD and a TCTA member since 2016, received a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to travel to New Zealand this year.

Delegates attending TCTA's 2019 Convention and Capitol Visit last week in Austin elected statewide leaders and approved a list of priorities for the current legislative session. Members discussed many of the priorities with lawmakers at the Capitol, including House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Convention attendees also heard from Education Commissioner Mike Morath, learned tips to relieve stress and earned CPE hours during the annual gathering.

After the legislature in 2017 adopted clarifying amendments to the original law requiring video cameras in special education classes in certain circumstances, TEA began the long process of proposing similar changes to its rules. TEA announced the final adoption of the rules in late January, and TCTA was pleased to see that many of our suggestions were included in the final rules.