Senate passes virtual school, charter bills

The Senate on Monday passed bills promoting virtual and charter schools, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst appointed Senate conferees on Senate Bills 1 and 2, fiscal matters bills related to balancing the new state budget. 

The House wasn’t in session on Monday, but on Tuesday it has two anti-teacher bills on its calendar. House Bill 20 would change the deadline for notification of non-renewal of a teacher’s contract from the 45th day to the 15th day before the end of instruction. House Bill 21 would remove seniority as a factor in determining layoffs when school districts impose reductions in force. 

Both HBs 20 and 21 are scheduled for debate after a bill on congressional redistricting. So, they may not be debated until very late in the day or postponed until Wednesday. Meanwhile, please keep calling your state representatives demanding votes AGAINST HB20 and HB21. Use the toll-free, 800-260-5444 number. 

Senate Bill 30 by Sen. Shapiro, passed by the Senate on Monday, would require a school district or open-enrollment charter school to give students the opportunity to enroll in electronic courses through the state virtual school network. Funding for virtual courses would be through the Foundation School Program and would be based on actual, successful completion of a virtual course. The bill also addresses IDEA concerns for students with special needs taking virtual courses and lays out TEKS requirements for courses in the virtual school network. 

Senate Bill 31 by Sen. Shapiro, also approved by the Senate, would allow certain open-enrollment charter schools to participate in the bond guarantee program for construction of facilities through the Permanent School Fund. Those schools would have to have investment grade credit ratings approved by the state education commissioner. 

Senate conferees on SB1, the fiscal matters bill that includes provisions for distributing $4 billion in school finance cuts among the school districts, are Sens. Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Robert Deuell of Greenville, Juan Hinojosa of McAllen, Florence Shapiro of Plano and Tommy Williams of The Woodlands. 

Senate conferees on SB2 are Sens. Steve Ogden of Bryan, Duncan, Hinojosa, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and Williams. 

SB 8 has a 9:30 a.m. hearing tomorrow.