TEA News Releases Online
Sept. 24, 2010
State Board of Education provides $2.6 billion for state budget; passes resolution
AUSTIN – The State Board of Education today approved a resolution that encourages future state boards to reject social studies books that don’t provide fair coverage to the world’s major religious groups.
The board also voted to provide about $2.6 billion to the state’s coffers from funds generated by the Permanent School Fund and granted open-enrollment charters to seven non-profit groups.
The most debated item on the board’s Friday agenda was a non-binding resolution brought to the board by Randy Rives, a citizen from Odessa, who felt that Islam was given more favorable treatment in 1999 editions of history textbooks than was Christianity. Those textbooks have been replaced by newer editions but some people contended that the newer textbooks provided similar coverage
The resolution, which narrowly passed initially on a 7-6 vote with two members absent, concludes by saying that the board “will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world’s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage spacewise and/or by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others.”
Social studies textbooks are currently scheduled to be adopted or given approval to be purchased with state funds in 2012, with the new books going into classrooms in 2013. However, the board has not yet issued this proclamation due to the predicted budget deficit expected to occur over the next two years or more.
During the next biennium, the state was scheduled to purchase some English language arts books, pre-kindergarten materials, English as a Second Language materials and supplemental science books at a cost of approximately $545 million. To reduce the cost of the science material, the board voted Friday to purchase supplemental science material that contains newly revised curriculum standards for biology, chemistry, physics and Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) only. This action deleted planned purchases of supplemental science material for grades 5-8.
In an effort to improve the chances that the legislature will fund textbook purchases when it crafts the next state budget, the board took two actions that will generate more than enough funds to cover the book purchases.
Board members agreed that the distribution rate from the Permanent School Fund to the Available School Fund would be an amount equal to 3.5 percent of the trailing 16 fiscal quarters preceding the regular session of the state legislature for the 2012-2013 biennium.
This action is expected to generate $1.566 billion for the state.
The board, by law, must set a distribution rate every two years. However in taking this action, board members noted that “the distribution is intended to satisfy our constitutional duty to set aside a sufficient amount of funds to provide free textbooks.”
Funds generated by the Available School Fund must be used to provide textbooks and per capita funding for each public school student. Although the board, through its stewardship of the Permanent School Fund, generates enough money to pay for new textbooks, the Legislature must directly appropriate the money back to the Texas Education Agency in order for the textbooks to be purchased.
When the distribution rate was last set, the stock market was in decline and the fund generated only $60.7 million to be used to purchase books or make per capita payments. However, the Permanent School Fund has made a resounding rebound during the past year and the board agreed to provide a “catch-up payment” to the Legislature of $1.092 billion this year. When combined with the payment last year of $60.7 million, the fund will provide a total two-year payment of $1.15 billion.
The Permanent School Fund, an endowment created in 1854, now has a fair market value of $22.6 billion.
In other action, the board authorized the following new charter schools:
- Arrow Academy Charter Schools, with hubs in Brazosport, Bryan, Dallas and Houston;
- Compass Academy Charter School in Odessa;
- The High School for Business and Economic Success in Houston;
- Newman International Academy of Arlington;
- Leadership Prep School in Frisco;
- Premier Academy of Learning in La Marque; and
- WALIPP-TSU in Houston.