BREAKING DOWN Senate Bill 8 Senate Bill 8 would give families $8,000 for education-related expenses and cost the state about $531 million through August 2025. Parents could choose how those funds are spent within certain parameters.
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Tuition and fees for a private school Textbooks or other instructional materials and uniforms Costs related to academic assessments Fees for private tutors or teaching services Transportation fees Fees for educational therapies not covered by a government program
A child is eligible for the program if they: Are eligible to attend public school Are enrolled for the current school year in a public school
other education-related expenses. SB 8 is one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s seven emergency priorities for the cur- rent legislative session. “My job is to make sure we get across the finish line a piece of legislation that will return mom and dad to being in charge of their child’s education,” he said during a visit to Cypress Christian School on March 21. The Legislative Budget Board reported the program would cost the state over $531 million through August 2025. While the program would not use funds allocated for public schools, opponents of the legislation have expressed concerns that more fund- ing is needed in public schools, which could lose more money if their stu- dents leave to attend private schools. The basic allotment—the amount school districts receive from the state per student to provide a basic level of education—has been set at $6,160 per student since 2019-20. Texas ranks No. 42 nationally in per-student spending, according to Education Week’s 2021 School Finance Rankings. The Texas comptroller of public accounts reported a $900 increase in the basic allotment would be needed just to keep up with inflation, and Cy-Fair ISD officials are advocating for a $1,000 increase. The Texas House approved a $140 increase over the next two years on April 27 through House Bill 100, which was heading to the Sen- ate as of press time. If approved, this increase would amount to about $13.1 million more for CFISD in 2023-24 and another $7.3 million in 2024-25. Superinten- dent Mark Henry said a 1% raise for staff costs the district about $9 million. In 2019, House Bill 3 included a $1,020 increase in the basic allotment for an estimated $4.5 billion. “We are begging for any morsel of
62,500 low-income students already enrolled in private schools may also be eligible, Creighton said. Amendments proposed to require private schools receiving voucher funds to meet the same accountability or safety training standards as Texas public schools were voted down by the Senate. Ultimately, the bill passed out of the Senate with an 18-13 vote April 6—one Republican and all Democrats voted against it. As of press time, the bill was referred General state revenue Money appropriated to the fund Gifts, grants and donations FUNDING SOURCES Are enrolled in a public school pre-K Attended a public school for at least 90% of the previous school year
of the average private school tuition in Cy-Fair would be covered.
SOURCES: TEXAS LEGISLATURE ONLINE, TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION/COMMUNITY IMPACT
Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin, said he believes SB 8 would make “great progress” toward giving parents alternatives if they have concerns about the quality of their chil- dren’s education. Data provided by the TPPF shows about 1.6 million students across the state, or 55.3%, are below grade level in English language arts and reading classes, and about 1.5 million are below grade level in math, or 62.5%. “The reason [parents] are voicing
additional funding for public schools, and ... [vouchers] do the oppo- site,” said Laura Yeager, direc- tor of Just Fund It TX, at an April 4 press conference. School districts across the state, including CFISD, approved budget deficits in fiscal year 2022-23 due to limited funding. Community Impact previously reported CFISD’s $1.17 bil- lion budget included a $109 million deficit with state funding making up 41% of revenue and local property taxes making up 57%. Public education advocates have also raised concerns that private schools are not required to meet state and federal standards for accountability, accessi- bility and safety. Henry said the district opposes any form of vouchers. “Public schools welcome all stu- dents, regardless of their disabilities, ethnicity or ZIP code. Private schools choose which students they allow to enroll,” he said. A closer look at Senate Bill 8 If this bill becomes law, students enrolled in public schools and students enrolling in kindergarten or pre-K for the first time could apply for an edu- cation savings account. As many as
to the House, where it was expected to face heavy opposi- tion. The same day SB 8 passed in the Senate, the House amended the state budget to prohibit the use of public funds for education savings accounts in an 86-52 vote. During previous legislative sessions, voucher programs have died in the
their concerns now is because they see that the education that was provided throughout the time of COVID, either isn’t up to the level of quality that they expect for their child, or it’s not aligned with their family val- ues,” Barba said. A l t hough
“MY JOB IS TO MAKE SURE WE GET ACROSS THE FINISH LINE A PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT WILL RETURN MOM AND DAD TO BEING IN CHARGE OF THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION.” GOV. GREG ABBOTT
House without a committee hearing. Michael Barba, K-12 education pol- icy director at the Texas Public Policy
public schools are required to teach to standards established by the State Board of Education, private schools do
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