AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the last viable bills in the Texas legislature that would increase teacher pay now has a provision that would create a school voucher-like program. The Senate Committee on Public Education on Monday, in a 9-3 vote, advanced the version of the bill that would create an education savings account program to the full Senate for a vote.
Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, over the weekend, filed a committee substitute of the bill that would add an education savings account program that would allow parents to re-direct up to $8,000 to private school tuition.
The Texas legislature has yet to pass a bill that would address the growing shortage of teachers in Texas public schools.
House Bill 100 would increase the per-pupil allotment for public schools by $50– and through that provision – would require school districts to use a certain amount of those funds to increase teacher pay. The allotment has not been increased since before the pandemic in 2019.
Public school leaders have expressed concern about per-pupil funding in the state not reflecting inflation and the rising cost of education.
The bill, in its current form, would also increase the minimum salary schedule for teachers and provide school districts with a $500 allotment for every student that is evaluated for special education services.
Sen. Royce West, D- Dallas, brought up concerns about how lawmakers are attempting to add school vouchers to the bill addressing public school funding and teacher pay. West brought up concerns that the education savings account program goes beyond the original bill.
The most recent data from the Texas Education Agency shows statewide more than 49,782 teachers left Texas public schools ahead of the 2022-23 school year. That number increased 16% from the previous year.
The data showed the two last school years have seen the highest increases in teachers leaving the state’s public schools since 2011.
“Adding a voucher to HB 100 dooms the last bill standing that includes a true educator compensation increase and general education funding. Make no mistake: A vote for this Frankenstein bill tells the 10 million-plus Texans who choose public schools exactly where you stand on supporting public education. You don’t,” ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes said in a statement.