Skip to main content

Updated: Teacher Furloughs Fair Game for Special

Rep. Rob Eissler has filed his mandate relief bill, and while it doesn't lift the class-size ratio, it virtually ensures a school district would recieve a waiver from the requirement upon request — as long as that wouldn't result in more than 25 students in a classroom, a district-wide average of more than 22 students per class, or "negatively affect the education of students."

State Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, discusses the conference committee's actions on school finance in the House chamb...

Updated, 3:38 p.m.: Eissler has filed his bill, and while it doesn't lift the class-size ratio, it requires the Commissioner of Education to grant a waiver to the requirement upon a school district's request, as long as that wouldn't result in more than 25 students in a classroom, a district-wide average of more than 22 students per class, or "negatively affect the education of students."

As the law stands now, the Texas Education Agency denies very few waivers, which districts can request if they have shortage of facilities or teachers — an argument opponents of lifting the class size ratio for cost-based reasons often make. 

Updated, 10:53 a.m.: Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands has said he will file mandate relief legislation, but that it won't target the class-size ratio as HB 400 did. 

Original story: The biggest victory for teachers' associations was the defeat of legislation allowing school districts to furlough teachers, reduce salaries and increase class sizes. Now, with a special session under way, all of that is back on the table — and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, has already filed a so-called "mandate relief" bill. 

In the event that districts receive less funding per student than the previous year, SB 8, a version of a bill Shapiro filed during the regular session, allows schools to furlough teachers and modifies minimum salary and notification of termination requirements. It does not lift the 22-1 student teacher ratio in kindergarten through fourth grade, as legislation introduced during the regular session by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and Eissler attempted to do.

On Monday, Eissler, who chairs the House Public Education Committee, would not say whether he intended to reintroduce his bill, only that he continued to believe such legislation was needed.   

All bills taking aim at state requirements for school districts will likely be fair game in the special session because Gov. Rick Perry has included "measures that will allow school districts to operate more efficiently" in his call for the special session — code words for mandate relief.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

Quality journalism doesn't come free

Yes, I'll donate today