Texas House Bill 1 Proposes Education Funding Boost in Exchange for Voucher Program

Texas House Bill 1 Proposes Education Funding Boost In Exchange For Voucher Program | Future Education Magazine


A recent development in the Texas legislature has brought education and voucher programs to the forefront of discussions, as lawmakers explore the possibility of implementing an education savings account program. The Texas House’s priority bill, House Bill 1 (HB 1), spearheaded by Rep. Brad Buckley, a Republican from Killeen, presents a unique approach to “school choice” legislation. Unlike the Senate’s version, which would provide families with $8,000 for private education, House Bill 1 seeks to increase funding for public education while introducing a capped savings account program.

Increase in the Basic Allotment per Student

Under House Bill 1, parents would receive 75% of the state’s basic allotment per student, which currently stands at $6,160 and has not seen an increase since 2019. During the first year of implementation, school districts would experience a minor boost in the basic allotment, raising it to $6,190. Parents participating in the voucher program would receive approximately $4,600 to allocate toward private schooling. In the second year, the allotment would increase by an additional $310.

House Bill 1 not only aims to address educational funding but also seeks to enhance teacher compensation. Educators would receive a one-time bonus of $4,000, and school districts would be required to allocate 50% of the additional state funding, resulting from the allotment increases, towards salaries for full-time employees, excluding administrators.

Includes Provisions for Home-Schoolers

Though the allocated amount is limited to $1,000, House Bill 1 also includes provisions for home-schoolers. In contrast, the Senate approved a House Bill 1 proposed by Sen. Brandon Creighton, which would grant families access to nearly twice the funding proposed in the House bill for private schools and other educational expenses like uniforms, textbooks, tutoring, or transportation. Creighton’s bill makes eligibility open to nearly all Texas students but prioritizes low-income families if the number of applications exceeds available funds.

The House has traditionally housed more critics of education savings accounts, with opposition coming from both Democrats and rural Republicans. Despite the challenges, House Bill 1 marks the beginning of negotiations between the House and Senate, a process that remains complex given the significant political differences between the two chambers.

Measures Proposed in the House Bill 1

Texas would allocate funds to help school districts cover the costs of teacher residencies, programs designed to place aspiring teachers in classrooms with mentors for approximately a year, equipping them with the skills necessary for the profession. This initiative aims to increase the effectiveness of teachers and their retention in the field. Currently, districts have to bear the costs of the residency teachers’ salaries. House Bill 1 offers districts financial support, with a range of $22,000 to $42,000 allocated for each teacher in the residency program, a response to the teacher shortage exacerbated by the pandemic.

The bill also expands the Teacher Incentive Allotment, which offers the potential of six-figure salaries to teachers meeting specific performance requirements. Presently, about 4% of the state’s educators, approximately 13,000 teachers, are part of this program.

Moreover, HB 1 introduces measures to make it more challenging for the state to revoke a teaching certificate when teachers break their contracts.

Finally, the bill also provides financial support for school districts that have lost state funding due to property valuation disputes between local tax authorities and the state.

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