LISD’s Priorities for 85th Legislative Session

LISD’s Priorities for 85th Legislative Session
Posted on 12/01/2016

While many of us have been focused on the recent national election, our attention will soon turn back to Austin as our state legislature prepares once again to reconvene this January. Two months may feel like a distant date, but Texas Senate and House committees have already started meeting to gather information on anticipated issues. The first day for legislators to file bills for the 85th Session passed a few weeks ago and more than 500 bills have already been filed. School superintendents are hearing quite a bit of discussion about issues like public school funding and school voucher programs that could significantly impact LISD. With that in mind, please allow me to outline a few ways our district's administrators, School Board members and myself are involved in these legislative issues.

The LISD Board of Trustees has been working over the past several weeks to develop a list of legislative priorities for this session, which it voted to approve at its November 17 meeting. While not a comprehensive list, it represents the issues the Board has found to be most pressing for our district and will act as a guide for Trustees and district administrators while communicating with legislators and testifying at the Capitol. It is a product of many conversations the Board held with district leadership, teachers, parents, neighboring school districts and organizations advocating for public education statewide.

Our legislative priorities for the 2017 session advocate, once again, for the reform and reduction of over-reliance on standardized testing, including streamlining the TEKS to allow teachers greater focus on “facilitating greater depth of student learning and understanding.” We support increased state funding for schools that allows for greater local control over new funds and long-term financial planning decisions, as well as funding for technology-based instruction. As a district that prides itself on transparency, we support ballot language that is accurate and “consistent with ballot language required of other local subdivisions and the state.” And finally, we again support legislation that prioritizes, funds and improves mental health services, programs and treatments, particularly as it relates to our students and their families.

Ours is a geographically large district that includes nine municipalities, each with its own elected officials. As I have begun to get to know these officials and their staffs, it is clear to me that LISD has worked to earn a reputation as a district committed to transparency, sharing data and information, opening its doors to invite everyone to see how we are succeeding and what else we may need to further succeed, and building relationships within the many entities in our community. We know that when schools, legislators, city officials, college administrators and so forth are working closely together, it makes for a more productive, more informed system that is less likely to implement harmful policies out of ignorance. That is why I am thrilled to see a diverse group of individuals from throughout our community participating in our Leadership Leander ISD class, spending the year learning firsthand about district programs; or to see influential businessmen and women devoted to learning more about school finance through Financial Leadership LISD; or to fellowship with legislative staff regularly at the local Chamber of Commerce meetings.

We look forward to continuing to build these relationships with our fellow community members and those who represent us in Austin and Washington. Administrators and Trustees will continue to meet with elected officials throughout the session and beyond, to grow our understanding of each other's challenges. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in neighboring districts and professional groups like the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to monitor bills impacting public education, to share our district's data at the Capitol and to advocate for the students and families we serve.

Please take a moment to visit the Legislative Information tab on the left side of our homepage to access the entire Legislative Priorities document, our district's Quick Facts card, learn how to communicate with your elected officials and more. Together we can ensure that LISD students are lead to a bright future.