FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2006
BACKGROUND: During the 2005 Regular Legislative Session, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. filed Senate Bill 939, which would have required the Comptroller of Texas, with the assistance of the Texas Education Agency, to undertake a thorough study of the current and future needs of instructional facilities of public school districts across the state. This language was amended to House Bill 2, the omnibus school finance reform bill late in the regular session; however, the school finance bill ultimately failed during the regular session and the following two special sessions. (A school finance bill finally did pass in May 2006.)
In January 2006, Sen. Lucio wrote to Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn to request that she conduct the facility study and issue a report on or before December 1, 2006. Comptroller Strayhorn accepted Sen. Lucio's request and issued a voluntary survey to school districts, similar to an earlier survey conducted by Comptroller John Sharp in 1997. The survey was designed with input from the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO), the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the executive directors and staff of the state's 20 Regional Education Service Centers (RESCs) and hundreds of school district administrators and staff from across the state. A total of 309 school districts and charter schools responded to the facility survey. The Comptroller's Office delivered a report of the survey to the Legislature on Monday, October 16. The report is available online at http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/facilities2006/.
STATEMENT: "I applaud the efforts of Comptroller Strayhorn and all those involved in this study of statewide public school facilities. It provides a very helpful snapshot of the conditions of our classrooms and the needs of school districts. The Legislature can use this data to determine the best legislative solution to our schools' needs. I urge my colleagues to work with me next session to address the shortcomings of the State in assisting school districts with renovations and new construction of school classrooms. The classroom environment is just as important as the quality of the teacher and instructional materials when striving for educational excellence among our students.
We've been saying that our children do not deserve to be permanently taught in temporary buildings. The study indicates that districts with the greatest number of economically disadvantaged students report the highest percentage of instructional portables; whereas, districts with the lowest number of economically disadvantaged students report using the fewest instructional portables.
It's about time we had updated information on classroom facilities to show where the gaps exist. I have wanted to see updated data on facilities for a long time. The last facility survey was done is 1997, and it's difficult to legislate improvements without the necessary information. The study shows that we have a need for improvements in instructional facilities across the state."
Note: Staff member handling this issue is Ms. Perla Cavazos, senior policy analyst, 512-463-0127.