by Coy Holcombe.
Today we heard from a variety of people. Some of the sessions were over funding, one was specifically over the federal stimulus funds, and a couple of topics centered around the new accountability bill that was passed this session. Some highlights from these sessions:
First, school funding became more complicated when the state utilized stimulus funds to fund increases to districts. These funds are going to have to be accounted for with federal coding. This means budgets will need additional codes to accommodate these funds. Second, since these are federal funds, districts are going to have to apply for these funds. Usually state funds are flowed to the districts based on ADA, WADA, and FTEs. With the federal funds supplanting state funds, this flow will continue, but the federal government is going to want to know how these funds are expended. Districts will have to fill out electronic applications that designated how these funds will be expended at the district level.
Second, while there was an accountability bill passed, any thoughts that Texas is moving away from test driven accountability system are false. The TAKS test, and in the future the end of course tests, will still figure prominently in the overall accountability system. In reality, the accountability system has become even more complex than before with ten additional measures added to the system. There were some very positive aspects of the bill also. For example, students that earn their GEDs will no longer be counted as dropouts.
Third, there is still much uncertainty about many aspects of the accountability bill and the finance bill. Many different questions will need to be answered before districts have a clear picture of what is actually happening.
Overall, a very informative day. Tomorrow, we are going to look at the funding template developed by Omar Garcia and talk more about the events of the 81st legislature.