The Galveston community has long endeavored to provide meaningful resources to support our students. In 2014, residents passed a tax-neutral swap to keep more district revenue local. In 2018, residents further passed a $31 million bond to upgrade school infrastructure.
The philanthropic community invests millions in after-school, professional development, and instructional supports, and Vision Galveston recently prioritized high-quality cradle to career education. But these investments happened despite state policy and financing, not because of it.
Thankfully for Galvestonians and Texans everywhere a bi-partisan body approved House Bill 3, an $11 billion investment into public education and property tax relief.
In January, Tony Brown, president of the Galveston Independent School District board of trustees, lamented the district would lose $30 million through recapture, the state system to ensure equity across districts with different property values. By increasing the state’s share of education funds, HB3 significantly reduces recapture payments and cuts Galveston’s in half.
Reducing recapture payments is just one way that Galveston will benefit from school finance changes. The legislature, led by our own Sen. Larry Taylor, chair of the Senate Education Committee, approved $6.5 billion in new money and ensured wise investment in strategies proven to positively impact student achievement. Strategies, in fact, that Galveston has locally invested in for years.
HB3 puts $780 million into early childhood education, funding full-day pre-K for all low-income and English language learning 4-year-olds. The district has funded full-day pre-K for years, and its partnership with the Moody Early Childhood Center was Texas’ first public school to educate infants and toddlers. HB3 ensures Galveston’s school board has state funding support to continue these investments.
Additionally, the bill provides $2 billion in raises for all teachers and many other school staff. Districts can also access funding to implement strategic compensation and strategic staffing — policies shown to produce student success in districts like Dallas, Lubbock and San Antonio. As an early adopter of effective, supportive educator evaluations, Galveston is well-positioned to access state dollars to support great teachers and principals.
For students, HB3 increases the foundational per student funding amount by $1,000. It also increases the amount of funding for every low-income student utilizing a first-of-its-kind approach that accounts for the effects of concentrated, generational poverty, something Galveston knows all too well.
Finally, HB3 makes Texas the first state to adopt outcomes-based funding for the K-12 space. It will financially reward districts for each student who graduates high school and then enrolls in college or industry certification or enlists in the military, with more funding for helping at-risk students achieve success. Said another way, Galveston can use state bonus funding to extend the impact of current programs like Universal Access and CareerConnect.
Our community has made the commitment to our students, investing local tax revenue and philanthropy in proven strategies even while sending back a sizable portion of revenue under recapture. With the passage of HB3, those days are over. More local dollars will remain local, enhancing the investments we have already made in our most important resource: our students.