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Legislative Advisory Council Meets, Narrows Priorities

photo of trustees at the Legislative Advisory Council Meeting on April 20, 2024

Nearly 90 trustees came together at TASB headquarters on April 20 for the first Legislative Advisory Council meeting of the year. LAC representatives gathered with two main goals: to review the regional legislative priorities identified at recent Grassroots Meetings and develop a list of statewide legislative priorities. 

The trustees, representing all 20 education service center regions from across Texas, spent the day reviewing the top priorities, sharing feedback, and selecting the legislative priorities to be explored. 

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD board president, chair of TASB’s Legislative Committee, and TASB first vice-president, led the meeting with Dax Gonzalez, TASB division director of Governmental Relations, facilitating.  

photo of Tony Hopkins - Friendswood ISD board member, chair of TASB’s legislative committee, and TASB board first vice-president - at LAC meeting on April 20, 2024

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD trustee

“Today is a really important meeting because we take your priorities and come up with statewide priorities,” Gonzalez told the trustees. “Now is the time to talk about other issues that maybe didn’t make it up here (on the list) that you may want to see. It’s also time to talk about what those issues specifically mean to your regions. ... So, this is just the framework, you can now start filling in the details.” 

The priorities that were most identified statewide through grassroots sessions included: 

  • Teacher recruitment, retention, and increased salaries 
  • Opposition to voucher/education savings accounts 
  • Increasing the basic allotment 
  • School safety and security 
  • Funding based on student enrollment   

Along with the five identified priorities, representatives were given the opportunity to share other issues they felt should be added to the list. Among the many issues raised during discussion were: 

  • The ability for schools to advocate at the Capitol and to join organizations that advocate on behalf of school districts (Shameria Davis, Copperas Cove ISD, Region 12) 
  • Funding increases for specific programs, including SPED, which has not had a funding increase since 1992 (Eric Fort, Royse City ISD, Region 10) 
  • Revision, reduction, and overhaul of state testing to make assessments meaningful (Heather Sheffield, Eanes ISD, Region 13) 
  • Banning smoke and vape shops within school vicinities (Martina Lemond Dixon, Humble ISD, Region 4) 
  • Increasing the basic allotment based on inflation (Daniella Lopez-Valdez, Brownsville ISD, Region 1) 

After discussing possible additions to the list of priorities, the LAC representatives decided it would be more impactful to have two key priorities, with subtopics, to work with.  

photo of Brownsville ISD trustee Daniella Lopez-Valdez at LAC April 2024

Daniella Lopez-Valdez, Brownsville ISD trustee 

“I think we need to change the narrative with what the current state agenda is,” Lopez-Valdez said. “If we are able to say public education is the foundation — the basic infrastructure for economic development — we can get more bipartisan support.” 

The LAC representatives decided that the two priorities would include fully funding Texas students and parental empowerment through local governance of community schools and locally elected officials. Each priority would cover a variety of other concerns from teacher pay and retention to unfunded mandates and local control over elections and the ability for the community to work together and advocate on behalf of public education students. 

Heather Sheffield of Eanes ISD with other trustees at Legislative Advisory Council meeting on April 20, 2024

Heather Sheffield, Eanes ISD trustee 

“Whatever we put out there it should be student centered,” Sheffield said. “Fund students and community schools... It boils down to locally elected officials and community schools and being student centered.” 

With the key priorities narrowed down, refining the language and messaging will be the next step. The LAC will have the chance to discuss and make changes to the priority list during the next meeting, being held June 13, before making its final recommendations to the TASB Board.  

The TASB Board of Directors will review the LAC’s draft priorities and make its recommendation to the Delegate Assembly, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 28, during txEDCON in San Antonio. Texas school boards are able to appoint one delegate and one alternate to attend TASB’s annual meeting, where they will amend and approve the 2024-26 Advocacy Agenda.  

Learn more about the Delegate Assembly and how your board can participate.

Delegate Assembly

TASB is an association of many voices. Delegate Assembly is where those voices come together to develop a common vision — the best public schools we can provide for Texas students.

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Mary Ann Lopez
Senior Communications Specialist

Mary Ann Lopez is a senior communications specialist for TASB.