New Education Bill Gives School Districts More Spending Flexibilty
If signed by the governor, new language in Senate Bill 6 would give school boards more control over instructional materials at the local level. But school boards would not get extra powers over the content of those materials.
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) is excited about the bill.
"It gives school districts much more flexibility in terms of delivering education," TASB's assistant director of governmental relations Julie Shields said. "This generation of students is very different than the generations of the past in that these kids are so clued in to technology. That's how they communicate. That's how they learn. By going this direction it's going to help school districts deliver content in a way that might be more appealing to students."
Since 1992, schools received a $30 per student allotment for educational technology spending annually. School board administrators complained those funds were meager and outdated, until this year when budget cuts eliminated it altogether.
Now, school boards want to spend state funds earmarked for paper textbooks on digital and online materials that could better serve their students. Those instructional materials, in many cases, are more interactive and can be updated faster and more frequently.
The bill achieves spending flexibility by changing the word “textbook” to “instructional materials.” This allows more material to qualify for state funding.
"You have 'technology' in one pot. You have 'textbooks' in another pot," Shields said. "Previously those were two different pots of money. The 'Instructional Materials Allotment' is bringing both pots together."