Texas Legislative Updates
Texas public charter schools serve 375,000 students, with 66,000 more on waiting lists. Texas’ 88th Legislative Session convened on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, providing charter advocates the opportunity to make legislative changes that improve the charter footprint in the state. Lawmakers filed several charter bills this session, which will Sine Die on Monday, May 29, 2023, and below is a list of bills that have become a priority as the regular session winds down.
Senate Bill 472: Relating to the applicability of certain laws to open-enrollment charter schools.
Background—Over the last few years, cities have denied and delayed building permits for public charter schools even after the Texas Education Agency approves new charters or expansions. In fact, the Dallas City Council voted for a charter moratorium in 2016, and no new charters have been built in Dallas since. SB 472, which is making progress in both chambers, would require cities to treat charter facilities like Independent School Districts, meaning the same permitting and building codes that apply to ISDs would apply to public charter schools. There is opposition to SB 472, which will lead to a fight to get it passed before the deadline. The House companion bill is HB 1707.
House Bill 1572: Relating to instructional facilities funding for certain open-enrollment charter schools.
Background—Qualifying public charter schools share a fixed $60M charter facility appropriation. One goal for this session is to change the facility appropriation to a per-student allotment, which would help charter operators budget for facilities by knowing the exact amount they will receive from the state. Even if it passes, it is unclear how much of an increase charters will receive because, historically, a fight ensues when they request additional funding. The Senate companion bill is SB 1722.
House Bill 2102: Relating to the establishment of a new open-enrollment charter school.
Background—This bill would expand the timeline for expansion amendments from 18 months to 36 months, allowing charter facilities more time to build. With the legislative session nearing the finish line, getting it passed in the Senate will be tight.
House Bill 2890: Relating to the approval of open-enrollment charter schools.
Background—Texas has one of the nation’s most rigorous charter application processes, and one hurdle for new applicants is getting past the State Board of Education (SBOE) veto. HB 2890 would raise the SBOE veto requirement from a simple majority to a supermajority.
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