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JUL
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Texas celebrates win for afterschool & summer programming

By Guest Blogger

By Alison Reis-Khanna is the Executive Director of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST) located in Austin, TX. As the leader of TXPOST, she is constantly advocating for all things afterschool including funding, data gathering, and improved quality. This is a blog on the legislation that passed during the 85th session in Texas on increased data collection of afterschool and summer programming.

The 85th Texas Legislative Session began with the release of a proposed budget that called for across the board cuts in general revenue spending. Substantial cuts were expected due to waning oil and gas prices and significant tax cuts passed during the 84th Legislative Session. Between the proposed budget cuts and the lack of bipartisan support, Texas politicos expected minimal legislation to be signed into law, and they were right.

The session ended with the lowest number of bills and resolutions passed during the previous 10 legislative sessions. Additionally, Governor Abbott was quick to use his veto power, vetoing 50 of the bills sent to his desk. This is the greatest use of veto power since 2007 in the state. From multiple perspectives, this session of the Texas legislature was unique and extremely challenging for many organizations and advocates.

Governor Abbott did sign S.B. 1404, a bill developed with Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Trent Ashby and championed by the Texas Partnership for Out-of-School Time (TXPOST) and our partners. S.B. 1404 is designed to collect data on afterschool and summer programs that are located in school buildings. Through collecting data in the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), afterschool and summer programs will be codified as a vital part of the state education system and stakeholders will have access to a greater statewide landscape of programs.

Additionally, with the support of the Texas Education Agency, the bill includes language referencing specific afterschool activities as outlined in S.B. 503, the legislation that created the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council. Now that S.B. 1404 has been signed into law, it will be passed to the Texas Education Agency for rule-making and implementation.

The Texas legislature meets every other year for 140 days. During the 18 months between sessions, no fewer than 15 specific policy asks were discussed, debated, analyzed, and re-analyzed within TXPOST. In conversations with multiple partners and stakeholders, TXPOST was able to identify legislation from previous sessions that met some of our goals. From there, TXPOST staff met with agency representatives and advocacy groups and worked closely with staff from Sen. Hughes’ office to develop S.B. 1404.  

Not only will this bill provide quantitative data on the number of programs, the bill that passed included linkages to the legislation of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council, outlining the types of activities that high-quality programs implement.

Despite a challenging legislative environment, it was a good session for afterschool and summer programming and for TXPOST!