On May 3rd, during a debate on the Senate Budget, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte pointed out that schools in her district had been forced to lay-off nearly 750 teachers due to education budget cuts. She also stated that if the Senate passed a budget with no rainy day fund money incorporated, the potential to lose even more teachers was there.

Senator Florence Shapiro countered that job saving legislation is on the table (SB 12, as well as HB 400), specifically designed to ease the financial constraints on school districts, giving them greater flexibility regarding minimum teacher pay, non-contract renewal notice, and building furloughs for teachers into the academic calendar for teachers.

Both the House and Senate should look toward getting some form of this education flexibility legislation passed. Sen. Van De Putte’s central concern regarding school funding is valid; public education is going to have to make due with less money than it is used to having. One way to address those financial concerns is to grant the kind of flexibility that HB 400 and similar bills allow for.

A leaner Texas budget is going to emerge from the 82nd Legislature. As we ask school districts change the way they do business to handle the reduced funding, we need to make every tool available to them to do so. HB 400 is one of those tools.

-James Golsan