Draft bill hints at preparations for another Special Session on school choice

Special Session 3 of the Texas Legislature ends on Tuesday, but steps are apparently being taken to prepare for Special Session 4. 

Friday afternoon, State Rep. Brad Buckley (R - Salado), the Chairman of the House Select Educational Opportunity & Enrichment Committee, sent out a notice to House members about the new HB 1 he has drafted.

FOX 7 reviewed the new bill, which is a rewrite of the massive comprehensive education reform package Rep. Buckley filed during the 3rd Special Session which includes a limited School Choice Pilot Program.

Buckley, in his Friday letter, indicated he is trying to avoid the meltdown that has apparently doomed any attempt to pass a school choice plan before the Tuesday deadline. He stated he is expecting a new Special Session Call from Gov. Abbott next week.

"My reason for disseminating this draft is to give each of you a jumpstart on examining this bill ahead of the next special session," Buckley wrote. "Please take this time to thoroughly understand its provisions and implications -- your feedback and insights will be invaluable as we work to get it refined."

The new draft of HB 1, which was posted and taken Friday, is long, with more than 170 pages.

Key points in the draft included teacher pay increases and more details on school choice.


Section 4.12 on page 55 outlined proposed teacher pay increases. Page 90 provided details on School Choice.

Article 6 of the draft bill gave new details on an Education Savings Account Program. It appears to be a Universal School Choice program and is not a limited pilot program. The draft legislation did not provide a set dollar amount per student, but included a formula offered on page 106 of the bill in Section A29.361, titled Amount of Payment.

ESA payments would be "equal to 75 percent of the estimated statewide average of funding per student in average daily attendance," according to the draft bill. A home school student would be provided up to $1,000.

The plan also included grant money for special education students and money for school districts to fund Junior ROTC programs.