The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) met during the week of November 16-18. At this meeting, the board heard from Commissioner of Education Mike Morath and dealt with several issues, including approving the board’s 2023 Legislative Recommendations, updates on school security, STAAR redesign, and honored outgoing board members.
SBOE Legislative Priorities
The board approved the following legislative recommendations to the 88th Texas Legislature, which convenes on January 10, 2023:
- Grant the SBOE veto authority of charter school expansion.
- Charter schools in the State of Texas would follow the same rules as LEA’s.
- All LEA’s would use textbooks approved by the SBOE or seek a TEA waiver; combine SBOE approval process with the Texas Resource Review with SBOE approval of rubric; align instructional materials to cover 100% of the TEKS standards.
- Provide SBOE members benefits and staff support.
- Raise the floor of the minimum salary schedule by a minimum of 50% and fully fund it.
- Reject all attempts to divert public dollars away from public schools in the form of vouchers, education savings accounts, taxpayer saving grants, tuition tax credits, a business franchise tax credit, or an insurance premium tax credit, or any other mechanisms that have the effect of reducing funding to public schools.
The Commissioner reported that the redesign of STAAR goes live this school year (Spring 2023), and gave an update on the new School Safety Standards rule and upcoming grant opportunities
The STAAR redesign is a result of House Bill 3906 passed in 2019. The TEA, working with a wide range of education stakeholders, including the Assessment Education Advisory Committee, has been exploring the most instructionally supportive approach to implementing these changes. The redesign will be implemented in the 2022–2023 school year.
Additionally, House Bill 3261, passed in 2021, requires state assessments to be administered online by the 2022–2023 school year. This transition will require nearly all students to be assessed online, with the exceptions of students taking the STAAR Alternate 2 assessment and students who require accommodations that cannot be provided online.
New School Safety Standards Rule
In light of recent events, ongoing public concern, and the charge by Governor Abbott, the TEA Commissioner is proposing a new rule to address school safety and ensure minimum school safety standards to address the safety of students and staff in public schools. The proposed rule would require that all school system instructional facilities have access points that are secured by design, maintained to operate as intended, and appropriately monitored. Specific rule text will be available via the Texas Register soon and is preliminarily posted on TEA’s website here. A one-page overview can be found here.
2023-2025 School Safety Standards Formula Grant
The TEA will release a formula-based grant application in the coming weeks to support the school safety standards and proposed rules referenced above. The grant will allow for pre-award for items purchased on or after June 1, 2022.
This grant program will calculate formula allocations based on a per-pupil amount per LEA. Grant funds will be distributed by per-pupil counts on student enrollment as reported in the October 2021 PEIMS submission. There will be a $200,000 minimum grant allocation for smaller and rural LEAs.
The grant will allow spending on a variety of security-related items identified by the needs of each LEA. The grant will allow for various costs associated with school safety and security; however, the grant will come with a requirement that money must first be spent on items necessary to comply with minimum requirements of the rule. Once the standards of the rule are met, the remaining funds can be spent on other eligible security-related costs as defined in the grant program’s allowable costs.
For more information, you can review the allocation funding, allowable costs, and grant links listed here: Allocation by LEA, Allocation by ESC, School Safety Formula Grant Allowable Costs.
Silent Panic Alert Technology (SPAT) Grant
The TEA also released a formula grant program on October 28, 2022, to provide grant funds to LEAs to purchase silent panic alert technologies for campuses as a measure of school safety. Silent panic alert technology is generally defined as a silent system signal generated by the activation of a device, either manually or through software applications, intended to signal a life-threatening or emergency situation (such as an active shooter, intruder, or other emergency situation) requiring a response from law enforcement and/or other first responders.
The grant funds support an alarm system as described in the proposed School Safety Standards Rule. The rule describes this as part of a school system communications infrastructure, which shall include a panic alert button, duress, or equivalent alarm system, via standalone hardware or integrated into other telecommunications devices.
Outgoing Members of the SBOE
The week concluded with the SBOE honoring and passing resolutions to honor outgoing State Board of Education members Lawrence Allen (D-Houston), Ruben Cortez (D-Brownsville), Jay Johnson (R-Pampa), Sue Melton-Malone (R-Robinson), Georgina Perez (D-El Paso), and Matt Robinson (R-Friendswood) for their time of service on the board. Six new members will be sworn in at the next board meeting in January 2023.