- Galveston, TX Weather :: 72F Fair October 18, 201772F Fair
- Galveston, TX Weather :: 72F Fair October 18, 2017
- Simone Biles begins gymnastics training with eyes on 2020 Tokyo Olympics October 17, 2017Five-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles will return to gymnastics training in October with new coach Laurent Landi. She will continue to train at World Champions Centre in Spring, and hopes to return to competition by the summer of 2018."I have enjoyed my time away from training since the Olympics, but am excited to get back […]
- Judge, Sabathia help Yankees beat Astros 8-1; Houston leads ALCS 2-1 October 17, 2017Back in the Bronx, the big guys delivered.Greeted by an array of "All Rise" signs in a ballpark that fits their style, Aaron Judge hit a three-run homer and made a pair of sparkling catches, leading CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Houston Astros 8-1 Monday night and cutting their deficit to […]
- Former Astro Lance Berkman talks about Houston's path to the World Series October 16, 2017After school at Second Baptist High School, you'll find coach Lance Berkman prepping the future of baseball."It's a good group of kids here and I love the fact that baseball is appealing to younger fans," Berkman said.Berkman knows the importance of a crowd rooting you on.Remember Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio?Berkman was also one of the […]
- Additions give new-look Rockets a fresh take on 2017-18 season October 16, 2017The Houston Rockets have been the talk of the offseason after the acquisition of veteran point guard Chris Paul and, more recently, a change in ownership as Tilman J. Fertitta takes over the team.With the addition of other defensive-minded veterans, the new-look Rockets have a compelling argument to become one of the NBA's top teams.The […]
- Louisville fires Rick Pitino amid federal investigation October 16, 2017Louisville's Athletic Association has officially fired coach Rick Pitino nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe.The association, which oversees Louisville's sports programs and is composed of trustees, faculty, students and administrators, voted unanimously to oust the longtime Cardinals coach following […]
- Astros host postseason watch parties at Minute Maid Park for away games October 16, 2017Fans are invited to Minute Maid Park for to watch every Astros postseason away game.To attend the watch party, fans must claim a free voucher at www.astros.com/postseason or at any of the watch party entrances the day of the event.Parking is available for a fee in all Astros-controlled parking lots. Two hours before each away […]
- 3 keys to an Astros win against the Yankees in Game 3 October 16, 2017The Astros protected their home field and now, the Yankees will try to do the same on their home turf in the Bronx. The "must win" theme is certainly in place as only one team has ever come back from being in a 0-3 hole and win a series.The Yankees believe they can pull it […]
- Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2 October 16, 2017With each stinging line drive, Jose Altuve is putting his stamp on this October. Same with every pitch from Justin Verlander, no matter the inning or score.Houston's longest tenured player and its durable new ace -- an incomparable pair so far this postseason.PHOTOS: 2017 ALCS Game 2 Astros vs. YankeesAltuve raced home on Carlos Correa's […]
- Watson tosses 3 TDs as Texans beat Browns 33-17 October 16, 2017Deshaun Watson threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first rookie in NFL history with at least three TD passes in three straight games, helping give the Houston Texans a 33-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Watson has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, the most in NFL history by a […]
- Astros trying to give Houston a boost in wake of Harvey October 16, 2017Every time the Astros suit up, they wear a simple patch as a reminder of what Houston lost to Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic flooding.The city is determined to rebuild, and the Astros are careful to honor Houston with every game as they chase a second trip to the World Series in the franchise's history."I […]
- Simone Biles begins gymnastics training with eyes on 2020 Tokyo Olympics October 17, 2017
- Addicks and Barker Reservoirs: floodwaters discharged, ready for next rain event October 17, 2017The USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. Its main ...
- Texas A&M researchers study Harvey's impact on southwestern Texas bays October 17, 2017Researchers at Texas A&M's Galveston campus, led by Karl Kaiser, are focusing their efforts on Galveston Bay, testing for sewage, pharmaceuticals, ...
- Air Quality Alert October 17, 2017GALVESTON AND SURROUNDING AREAS ON WEDNESDAY. YOU CAN HELP PREVENT OZONE POLLUTION BY SHARING A RIDE...WALKING.
- EPA Cleanup Plan for Houston Superfund Site Opposed by Industry October 17, 2017The San Jacinto River meets the Houston Ship Channel before entering Galveston Bay. The San Jacinto waste pits are just upstream. Photo courtesy ...
- TX Houston/Galveston TX Zone Forecast October 17, 2017Copyright 2017 AccuWeather. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. © 2017 The Associated ...
- High tides has coast seeing red October 17, 2017The Sabine Pass, Galveston, Freeport, Matagorda and Port O'Connor jetties have coughed up consistent catches of reds as well. Cracked crabs, fresh ...
- Galveston Avenue parking study shows crowding October 17, 2017Crowding along Galveston Avenue in Bend leads to parked cars illegally blocking driveways or intersections even as streets a few blocks away sit ...
- Addicks and Barker Reservoirs: floodwaters discharged, ready for next rain event October 17, 2017
Travel through time!
- Fall Events in Full Swing This Weekend, Closures throughout the City of Galveston October 17, 2017This weekend the sound of street musicians, runners, and cyclists will fill the fall air on Galveston Island. Visitors and citizens should expect street closures across the city.
- The Grand 1894 Opera House October 17, 2017The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston will host "Christmas Wonderland" on November 24-25.
- Friendswood Public Library October 17, 2017Friendswood Public Library will host artist Ted Ellis on Wednesday to discuss his paintings.
- University of Texas Medical Branch October 17, 2017The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston today announced that it has opened a new transplant clinic in the Rio Grande Valley.
- H-GAC Board of Directors October 17, 2017The Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors today voted unanimously to approve the negotiation and execution of a contract with the Texas General Land Office for Hurricane Harvey Direct Housing Assistance Program.
- Hitchcock City Commission October 17, 2017The Hitchcock City Commission on Monday voted 3-1, with Fard Abdullah opposed, to lift the city's moratorium on sand pit applications and permits.
- League City Police Department October 17, 2017League City Police Department will host a DEA Drug Take Back event on October 28 at the League City Public Safety Building parking lot.
- Jamaica Beach City Council October 17, 2017Jamaica Beach City Council on Monday voted 3-2-1, with Gene Montgomery and Marci Kurtz opposed, Rosemary Lindley abstaining, to approve a contract with Atkins North America, Inc. for professional services associated with obtaining a permit for seaweed maintenance.
- College of the Mainland October 16, 2017College of the Mainland today announced that four graduates of Dickinson High School have created a scholarship fund to assist Dickinson High School students planning to attend the college following Hurricane Harvey.
- Fall Events in Full Swing This Weekend, Closures throughout the City of Galveston October 17, 2017
- Donald Trump Blasted After 'Sarcastically' Telling Army Widow 'He Knew What He Signed Up For' 18 Oct 2017 12:38 Huffington Post A US Congresswoman has claimed Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed during an ambush in Niger earlier this month that he “must’ve known what he signed up for”. Frederica Wilson was in the car with Myeshia Johnson when the President called to …
- Trump to widow of fallen soldier: 'He knew what he signed up for' 18 Oct 2017 12:38 MSNBC October 18th, 2017 After facing criticism for not reaching out to the families of fallen soldiers, President Trump called one of the widows Tuesday and said her husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, "knew what he signed up for," according to …
- "Total fabrication!" Trump denies vile phone comment to soldier's pregnant widow and says he has proof 18 Oct 2017 12:38 The Mirror Donald Trump has denied making a vile comment to a grieving widow moments before she wept over his coffin. The bouffant-haired President was accused of telling pregnant Myeshia Johnson that her dead husband Lance Sergeant David Johnson, 25, "knew …
- “The best thing that ever happened to her” | Trump accuses Comey of protecting Clinton 18 Oct 2017 12:37 Y Naija President Trump has accused former FBI director, James Comey of drafting a letter which exonerated his fierce opponent and former Democrats presidential candidate in the last election, Hillary Clinton, from the then investigation into her use of private …
- 'Repulsive Oaf' Trump Ripped For What He Said To Slain Soldier's Widow 18 Oct 2017 12:34 Yahoo! Voices President Donald Trump was slammed on social media overnight for his comments to the grieving widow of a fallen U.S. serviceman. “He knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway,” Trump told Myeshia Johnson, according to Rep. …
- Donald Trump and the new politics of honoring war dead 18 Oct 2017 12:34 Washington Times WASHINGTON (AP) — After her Army son died in an armored vehicle rollover in Syria in May, Sheila Murphy says, she got no call or letter from President Donald Trump, even as she waited months for his condolences, wrote to him to say “some days I don’t want …
- Donald Trump told widow that fallen soldier knew what he signed up for 18 Oct 2017 12:34 Washington Times MIAMI (AP) — President Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” according to a Florida congresswoman who says she heard part of the conversation on speakerphone. Rep. Frederica …
- US Rep. say President Trump says fallen soldier knew what he signed up for, President denies claims 18 Oct 2017 12:34 WHNT × US Rep. say President Trump says fallen soldier knew what he signed up for, President denies claims MIAMI (AP) — President Donald Trump told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” according to …
- The Latest: Rep. stands by account of Trump’s call to widow 18 Oct 2017 12:33 KIRO President Donald Trump speaks during anews conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Trump on Tuesday will call the families of four soldiers killed this month in Niger …
- Trump to widow: ‘He knew what he signed up for’ 18 Oct 2017 12:33 Cairns Post PRESIDENT Trump has accused a Democratic Congresswoman of lying over his words to the pregnant widow of a slain US soldier. “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!” Trump …
- Houston serial killer faces execution this week
- Insurance company accused of delayed response to storm claims
- Some Texas Republicans in Congress again outraised by challengers
- To fund bid against Ted Cruz, former mayor puts up building as prize in “essay and rib contest”
- U.S. House passes hurricane relief bill after tense day for Texas delegation, Abbott
- It’s Time to End Austin’s Failed Experiment in Police Oversight, Activists Say
- Prosecutors drop 1 of 13 felony charges against Rep. Dawwna Dukes
- League City mayor hospitalized after heart attack
- ICE Detained a Pregnant Rape Survivor for Six Months, Records Show
- Husband, wife each lose leg after hit-and-run crash in Waller County
- Temporary bans placed on fishing near site of busted cap
- Texas man travels to Orlando to sexually assault 9-year-old girl, police say
- Mom, older brother charged after 11-year-old found smoking meth
- Days from execution, man convicted in prison guard’s murder insists on innocence
- Truck involved in multiple accidents leaves 1 dead, 1 injured in Texas City, police say
- $1M worth of iPads mostly unused after being purchased for local elections
- Woman caught on camera stomping small dog inside elevator
- How much has been raised for Harvey relief — and how’s it being spent?
- The Case to End Assembly Line Justice for Poor People in Harris County
- Mother, son charged in murder-for-hire plot
- How scammers are using homeowners to defraud FEMA
- Police find man’s body stuffed in closet after victim ‘tortured’ to death
- In historic win, charters getting state funding for facilities for the first time
- Dreamers greet DACA renewal deadline with anxiety and unanswered questions
- Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial is delayed for a third time
- Judge blocks Texas secretary of state from giving voter information to Trump commission
- East Texas county sues drug companies, alleges role in opioid crisis
- North Korean workers prepare seafood for U.S. stores, restaurants
- 3 Harris County Sheriff’s Office employees indicted in assault cases
- Reward raised for man on Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders list
- Texas business mogul Mark Cuban offers details for hypothetical 2020 presidential run
- Woman accused of killing taxi driver appears in court
- Texas death row inmate Duane Buck has sentence reduced to life after Supreme Court orders retrial
- Hearing in Paxton case to consider delaying trial for third time
- Appellate judges show concern over Harris County bail practices, court ruling
- 28 organizations that got money from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- Pasadena drops appeal, will remain under federal oversight of election laws
- Almost 400,000 Texans’ insurance at risk after Congress fails to renew CHIP
- How Harris County’s federal bail lawsuit spreads beyond Houston
- HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns amid criticism of his travel on private planes
- Houston mayor calls off property tax hike after Abbott delivers $50 million
- ‘I’m just gonna shoot him if things go sideways,’ cop tells college student during traffic stop
- Hearing set for Friday in wrongful death suit in John Hernandez case
- Aide found half-naked after sexual contact with student, deputies say
- Thousands of Poor Texans Could Lose Health Care With Congress Distracted by ACA Repeal
- Slideshow: For southeast Texas, recovery after Harvey is slow
- Even Hurricane Harvey Can’t Temper GOP Hostility Toward Texas’ Big Cities
- Murder suspect arrested in 27-year-old ‘killer clown’ shooting married to victim’s husband
- Texas attorney general now accepting complaints on “sanctuary” jurisdictions
- Abbott: Houston has enough funding for Harvey recovery
- U.S. House passes tax breaks for victims of Harvey, Irma and Maria
- New state law seeks to reduce the number of child brides in Texas
- Texas can enforce more of ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Florida trooper accused of showing porn to child
- Town mayor facing assault charges
- 13-year-old accused in kidnapping and rape plot
- Hensarling to flood victims: ‘God’s telling you to move’
- Body Cam Policies in Texas Exacerbate a System Designed to Protect Police, Critics Say
- Army vet shown walking after claiming he couldn’t owes government $434K
- Analysis: X-factor in 2018’s Texas elections might be Harvey, not Donald
- Federal appeals court to hear arguments on Texas “sanctuary cities” law Friday
- Texas teens to be trained next year on police interactions
- Newlyweds say DJ robbed wedding cash
- How Galveston is offering a free beach weekend
- Lyft ride leads to hate crime charge for Houston man
- Florida woman makes ‘sexy’ plea to get power back after Hurricane Irma
- Report: Indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes spent $51k on online psychic
- Report: Trump’s judicial nominee from Texas called transgender kids part of “Satan’s plan”
- Hospital workers in hot water over Snapchat video, picture calling newborns ‘mini Satans’
- How some see Texas as the “gold standard” against wrongful convictions
- New leak discovered on Battleship Texas
- Texas House Speaker Joe Straus calls for removal of “inaccurate” Confederate plaque
- Hey, Texplainer: How is FEMA distributing money to areas hit by Harvey?
- Friendswood man accused of raking in nearly $2 million in decadelong pay-phone scheme
- Mayor Sylvester Turner has strong words for Red Cross after problems surface
- Trump Nominee to FEC Tried to Shred Texas’ Already-Weak Ethics Laws
- Dad in clown mask shot at while chasing daughter through neighborhood
- As a result of Hurricane Harvey, 600 more Texas prisoners getting AC
- Trooper fired for Sandra Bland stop: “My safety was in jeopardy.”
- Mysterious sea creature that washed up on Texas beach after Harvey identified
- Within days, this Austin company hopes to start legally growing marijuana
- Former officer accused of stealing $2,400 from dead man indicted on theft charges
- 135,000 gallons of sludge released into Galveston Bay after equipment failure, officials say
- Post-Harvey, Houston officials hope Congress is up for funding Ike Dike
- Ex-husband strangled Baytown realtor while children in next room, prosecutors say
- Pizza Hut manager threatened workers evacuating for Irma
- The Road to Huntsville
- Now you can carry any knife (almost) anywhere in Texas
- In beleaguered La Marque schools, Harvey stirs up old anxieties
- Flooded cars already being put up for sale
- Trump Nominates Lawyers from Anti-LGBT ‘Religious Freedom’ Group to be Texas Federal Judges
- Man survives being shot 16 times outside southwest Houston home
- Floridians jam highways to flee wrath of Hurricane Irma
- U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul again top contender to be Trump’s homeland security chief
- Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable
- Texans in Congress aim for united front ahead of long fight for Harvey aid
- Texas churches damaged during Harvey sue FEMA for federal funding
- Amazon wants to open $5 billion second HQ in North America
- New law allows hunting hogs from hot air balloons, but few balloonists will offer it
- New texting while driving ban full of loopholes
- Woman urinates herself, yells racial slurs during DUI arrest, police say
- Police shoot, kill tiger running loose in neighborhood
- What to do if your vehicle flooded during Hurricane Harvey
- House overwhelmingly passes $7.9 billion Harvey aid bill
- Selena’s family mourning the death of Houston relatives killed in Harvey flooding
- Trump ending immigration program that has impacted more than 120,000 in Texas
- Cinco Ranch flood victims demand buyout from federal government
- The Impossible City
- Our Lady of the Underground
- Texas officials see long road from Harvey for state transportation network
- Officials are starting to grapple with the costs of Harvey. Here’s what you should know today.
- Thanks to their State Rep, Friendswood Family Rushes to File Insurance Claim for their Flooded Home
- President Trump to visit Houston today to survey Harvey destruction
- As floodwaters continue to rise in Lake Jackson, crews come in to help with evacuees
- Residents being warned of people impersonating city of Houston, FEMA inspectors
- Renters find issues with flood-damaged units, property
- Crosby plant explosion highlights state efforts to block access to chemical information
- Where the government spends to keep people in flood-prone Houston neighborhoods
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: No special session needed for Harvey aid
- Five days after Harvey, here’s where things stand in Texas
- Harvey brings catastrophic flooding to Houston; 5 reported dead
- Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio
- Why Houston isn’t ready for Hurricane Harvey
- Judge Emmett, Mayor Turner say ignore ‘rumors’ about Hurricane Harvey
- Galveston Island prepares for Harvey’s impact
- Former Galveston ISD teacher accused of having sex with high school student
- Galveston deputy accused of assaulting girlfriend, investigators say
- In San Antonio, Cops Punch Down
- The Brief: Battle lines are (curiously) drawn in Texas’ redistricting fight
- Analysis: Firing the opening shots in the 2018 GOP primaries
- As Houston plots a sustainable path forward, it’s leaving this neighborhood behind
- Harris County emergency officials preparing for tropical system Harvey
- Federal court puts hold on Houston ordinance aimed at homeless camps
- Puppy attacked by pet store owner’s dog
- Mother left kids in hot car while she drank at bar, police say
- Angela Paxton, Texas attorney general’s wife, eyes Texas Senate run
- US imposes sanctions on Russian, Chinese firms over North Korea
- Parents’ plea for help in finding teenage couple missing for 48 hours
- 2 women claim they were groped by local massage therapist
- Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller criticizes Six Flags’ removal of Confederate flag
- El Paso City Council votes down city ID program
- League City Man Sentenced to 6 Years for Online Solicitation of a non-existent Minor
- UT-Austin removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night
- Galveston County Deputies Prevent Jumper on Bridge at 646 & I-45
- Dickinson Cops use Facebook to Catch a Burglar Named Jesus
- Evading Theft Suspects Taken Into Custody After Causing Accident in League City
- Father faces charges after he and missing boy found at hotel, authorities say
- Confederate Monument Protest Draws Hundreds in Houston
- Former HPD officer among those arrested in prostitution sting
- Mother charged with murder after child ejected during drunken driving crash
- Over 250 sex buyers, traffickers arrested on prostitution charges during sting
- Remember the Alamo (Differently)
- Your phone’s Bluetooth can locate illegal skimmer devices
- With Supreme Court appeal, Texas wants to keep congressional map intact
- Dallas, Houston Protests Planned as Confederate Monuments Under Fire in Texas
- With Trump’s Infrastructure Plan, Rural Texas Could be Left in Disrepair
- Body found in Bayou Vista while searching for woman who disappeared under ‘suspicious circumstances’
- South Florida woman accused of DUI with 3-year-old unbuckled in back seat
- Deputies: Mother tells son to buy her drugs
- HPD officer relieved of duty after DWI charge, officials say
- Abbott: Removing Confederate monuments “won’t erase our nation’s past”
- Prosecution rests at trial of woman accused in 2012 death of husband
- Confederate statue controversy hits Houston
- Selena’s brother taken into custody after landing on most wanted list
- In special session rubble, spotlight shines bright on Straus
- President Trump disbands White House business councils as CEOs leave
- Video shows deadly jailbreak; Man who pleaded guilty in deputy’s death sentenced to life
- Fisherman hooks gator in Buffalo Bayou
- Squatters or scam victims? Homeowner finds another family living in home
- Charges sought against those who toppled Confederate statue
- Houston group asks mayor to remove Confederate statue from downtown park
- Federal court invalidates part of Texas congressional map
- Texas to receive millions in federal funding for wildlife conservation projects
- How a total solar eclipse created France, Italy and Germany
- Deputies Go Unpunished for Invasive Cavity Search on Houston Roadside
- Florida man gets 6 years for firing gun during strip club selfie
- Map details where Texas hate groups are in 2017
- Man blames ‘hookah-smoking caterpillar’ for wrecking liquor store, police say
- ‘I feel like I was raped,’ woman says of invasive roadside strip search
- New Mexico Bandidos members held in Texas in firearms case
- Man, 57, commits suicide after shooting juveniles during road-rage incident, police say
- Mother charged with child abandonment after newborn found in flower bed
- President Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’
- Woman hit, killed by Houston garbage truck while crossing street
- Legislature advances annexation bill to Gov. Abbott
- 2 Teens Who Attacked Man Shot After Auto Accident in Galveston
- White nationalist rally, counter protest planned at Texas A&M on Sept. 11
- Hundreds Clash over Confederate Monument in San Antonio
- Greenspoint Mall to close in 60 days, sources say
- Texas House approves “compromise” city annexation bill
- Asps — poisonous, stinging caterpillars — back in season
- Texas bathroom bill appears to be all but dead in special session
- Gator spotted on Galveston County road
- After 2015 legalization, Texans may be able to buy medical cannabis oil by January
- Conroe Chief of Police asked to leave doctor’s office
- Law Enforcement Increasingly Opposed to Abbott’s Agenda
- Meet the Expert Who Helps Texas Cops Justify Extreme Behavior
- Baytown woman charged in two La Porte road-rage incidents
- FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home
- Special Session a ‘Battle Royal’ for Dominionists Who Seek Christian Rule
- Zoo employee accused of sex with 14-year-old boy
- New requirement for Texas driver’s license begins soon
- With 8 days left in special session, Texas House and Senate remain far apart
- What you need to know if your vehicle is flooded
- City of Houston applies for FEMA grant to help elevate homes in flood-prone areas
- Commissioners vote to ban swimming, fishing in San Luis Pass
- Texas backs Wisconsin in battle to protect partisan gerrymandering
- SE Houston gas pump appears to charge customers after they are done filling up
- Carjacking suspect accused of shooting father multiple times sentenced to 171 months in prison
- 4 arrested in connection with 2 deadly shootings in Montgomery County
- 1 drowns, 2 injured in incident at San Luis Pass
- 1 arrested, 1 on the run in linked cases of Spring nurse found dead, missing UH student
- Near Drowning at Bacliff Chase Park Pool
- Drunk Wrong Way Driver Arrested in Dickinson
- Lasker Park Community Swimming Pool to Open on August 15th
- Man accused of touching girls’ buttocks in back-to-school aisle at Walmart
- Rare pink dolphin spotted in Louisiana waterway
- Woman found hiding in bed of pickup truck says she ‘was just looking at the stars’
- Amazon sells out of toilet paper with Trump’s tweets
- Teen home invasion suspect killed, man on the run in Baytown
- Houston man last seen throwing life jacket to daughter before going underwater at Canyon Lake
- Deadly dare: 8-year-old girl dies after drinking boiling water
- 2nd Man In Robbery Spree Gets 20 Years Prison
- Oklahoma to seek death penalty against William Reese
- 4 officers taken to hospital after 2 patrol units run into each other, police say
- STATE LEGISLATURE PUTTING THE BRAKES ON TEXAS CITY ANNEXING SAN LEON WITHOUT SAN LEON RESIDENTS APPROVAL:
- 2 men charged in teen girl’s shooting death in Bacliff
- Weed company buys town in hopes of creating pot-friendly tourist destination
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls city governments the source of “all our problems in America”
- Man, 25, arrested for DWI after crashing into patrol car, deputies say
- Texas man snags “bucket list” 12-foot tiger shark off Padre Island
- Chauna Thompson, deputy terminated in wake of Denny’s choking death, appeals firing
- Humble ISD police officer accused of child pornography
- Angry woman robs cellphone store with large gun
- Dalia Dippolito discusses prison break in recorded jail call after recent conviction
- Tiny mermaid-painted shed drifted 200 miles in Gulf of Mexico
- Uber ride turns into nightmare for recent Texas A&M graduate
- ‘Sugar daddy’ banned from beaches after handing out provocative cards
- Business owners fight against crime in Chinatown
- 14-year-old girl clocked driving 107 mph during chase in Montgomery County
- Fight outside Spire Nightclub ends in crash, shooting
- When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids
- Guided bus tour of Houston’s strip clubs, massage parlors sheds light on human-trafficking business
- NASA looking to hire officer to protect earth from alien harm
- In Texas House, property tax proposals range from minor tweaks to abolishment
- Man exposes himself to woman outside fitness center, police say
- Man accused of robbing people who post items on buy, sell sites
- What it means for Texas colleges if Trump targets affirmative action
- ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl sentenced for stealing mother’s car, using her credit cards
- President Trump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia
- Wife shoots, kills husband after finding him with another woman, police say
- Humble restaurant employees accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls
- Family reunited with dog 3+ years after it went missing
- Angleton animal sanctuary facing fines after filing lawsuit
- Woman finds evidence bag full of marijuana at neighborhood park
- State Rep. Dawnna Dukes declines deal from Travis County District Attorney
- Report: Texas could lose billions if new immigration enforcement law stands
- Texas’ War on Local Control is Part of National Trend
- Wife of accused gunman dies after double shooting that led to innocent woman’s death
- ‘Ghost forests’ appearing from Canada to Texas
- Man charged after leaving crash that left motorcycle rider in critical condition, police say
- Flight in Vegas delayed by naked passenger, officials say
- Galveston’s Pleasure Pier ride Revolution shut down temporarily
- How often do shark attacks happen in Texas waters?
- Naked bank robbery suspect tosses stolen money
- Harris County officials continue crackdown on unlicensed after-hour bars
- Wife: Disagreement over Trump contributed to divorce from state attorney
- Kingwood native torches 8 cars after wedding called off, police say
- HPD officer hit by car, plunges 16 feet off Southwest Freeway
- Texas executes man who claimed his lawyers committed fraud
- Woman arrested on suspicion of posting ‘revenge porn’ online
- Statue honoring Alvin’s hometown hero, Nolan Ryan, topples
- Man arrested after showing porn to child at supermarket, authorities say
- Underage woman claims she was raped after being served at Houston-area restaurant
- The Woodlands teens accused of Florida crime spree after posting Snapchat videos
- La Marque residents asked to boil water after order issued
- Man who fled to Mexico after murder charge 21 years ago arrested trying to re-enter US
- Texas Senate passes bill to allow people to vote on whether a city can annex them
- Spring man caught filming up skirts arrested on child porn, invasive photography charges
- One-armed, machete-wielding clown arrested, police say
- Despite Knowledge of Climate Change in 1970s, Texas Utility Companies Funded Climate Denial
- Venus Williams accuses 78-year-old man killed in crash of not wearing seat belt
- Scammers target college students eager for scholarship money
- Woman accused of kidnapping baby while hitchhiking
- Every Texan in the U.S. House just voted for sanctions against Russia
- Man accused of producing child pornography
- Persistence pays off for rural Texans besieged by sky-high power prices
- Man accused of beating dog with crow bar
- 2 charged with prostitution after offering sex acts to undercover constables, authorities say
- Senate votes to start debate on health care bill
- Harris County pastor charged with sexual abuse of a child
- Trump’s New Immigration Lockup Draws Local Opposition in Conroe
- Set for execution, death row inmate alleges legal fraud in hopes of a stay
- Concerns raised over new Harris County bail system
- Crooks return to rob dentist office after police leave
- 2 throw drugs out window during high-speed chase, police say
- 5 arrested after drugs, gun, money seized from Magnolia home
- 15 years later, Clara Harris remains in state prison for husband’s murder
- Woman, 91, kicked out of Sunnyside home
- Congressman: If female GOP senators were South Texas men, I’d challenge them to a duel
- Turning Tail
- Death toll in San Antonio immigrant-smuggling case rises to 10
- Ex-Mexican drug cartel leader gets 30 years in US prison
- Kushner’s statement on Russia: What to know
- Analysis: In special session, Texas Senate’s the hare, House is the tortoise
- Texas Senate panel targets mail-in ballot fraud after high-profile case
- Drunk Driver Sentenced to 50 Years for Fatal Crash
- Tanker Crew Rescues 5 In Capsized Boat
- Man Sentenced to 45 Years on Drug Charges
- After Texas “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Patrick lauds sanctuary city law
- Charges possible in disturbing Florida drowning case
- Texas Senate committee OKs bill to outlaw city cellphone restrictions
- Texas Senate panel approves teacher bonuses, retirement benefits
- Carjacking suspect opens fire on officer during chase in SW Houston
- Man, 2 children killed in crash in NE Houston
- Katy woman arrested for DWI after man follows, records her erratic driving
- Mickey Mouse mask-wearing burglar caught on camera breaking into 2 stores
- Houston pastor Victoria Osteen says she does not endorse skin care product
- Senate committee passes bills on private school choice and school finance study
- Bill limiting city, county spending fuels war over local control
- Woman, 93, dragged during carjacking at church, police say
- Trans Texans, Advocates Swarm Texas Capitol to Oppose ‘Bathroom Bills’ (Again)
- Man admits to killing 14-year-old half-brother, authorities say
- Monkey on the loose in south Houston after attacking girl, police say
- ‘Million Dollar Ho’ arrested in Florida prostitution sting
- Turner reopens bids for recycling contract to 4 companies
- District attorney to pursue death penalty against 4 suspects
- Houston woman charged in connection with ransom scheme
- Pastor in The Woodlands accused of prostitution
- Academy Sports + Outdoors laying off 100 employees
- 1 dead after shooting at NW Harris County apartments
- Kay Bailey Hutchison vows toughness on Russia as NATO ambassador
- Conroe horse-riding trainer accused of sexually assaulting child
- Environmental groups sue EPA over lax Texas air pollution permits
- Abbott adds school finance, retired teacher benefits to special session
- Bodycam allegedly shows Baltimore cop planting drugs
- Key events in OJ Simpson’s fall from sports hero, movie star
- Heat is part of life at Texas prisons, but federal judge orders one to cool it
- Growing health trend bypasses doctors’ offices for diagnosis, treatment
- HPD chief answers questions about Josue Flores murder case
- Sarah Davis wants more information about “misconduct” at TABC
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- Dancing with Denial
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- Toll road drivers getting fed up with erroneous charges
- Trump administration: Trust Texas on voter education spending
- Baby dies after being infected with cold sore virus through kiss, parents say
- 24 firearms stolen after Texian Firearms robbed twice in one day
- Texas Republicans in Congress process health care bill’s collapse
- Florida man arrested after reporting cocaine stolen, deputies say
- Teens arrested after Facebook Live video of 23-year-old woman’s assault
- Girl, 17, fires shot at intruder while chasing him out of her house
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- Texas Senate moves to fast-track special session agenda
- President Trump: ‘Let Obamacare fail’
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- Angleton mulls proposal for RV park next to Stephen F. Austin statue
- Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security
- Texas Democrats lay out their own special session priorities
- Gov. Abbott says property taxes are his top issue for special session
- Small Government Crusader Wants $35 Million to Fix a Battleship in His District
- OJ Simpson faces good chance at parole in Nevada robbery
- It’s a Trump Miracle! There are Signs of Life Among Texas Democrats
- IBM ups the ante in fight against Texas bathroom bill
- At some Texas universities, students accused of rape can transfer without a record
- Gas pump overcharges customers in League City
- Father survives after van crushed by 7,000-pound scrap metal
- Two killed in crash during police chase in NE Houston, police say
- At tail end of Texas redistricting trial, judges skeptical of state’s defense
- After dissident’s death, Ted Cruz hopeful about changing Chinese Embassy address
- Harris County Toll Road Authority faces lawsuit over fees charged to drivers
- 1 killed in shooting at Bella Terra shopping center in Fort Bend County, deputies say
- On day 5 of redistricting trial, Texas refutes claim that current political maps discriminate
- Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment
- Second arrest made in death of 79-year-old Hedwig Village woman
- Greg Abbott’s Latino Problem
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott formally launches 2018 re-election bid
- Licensing director is seventh official out at troubled Texas liquor agency
- Sketch released of man wanted in shooting that wounded 1-year-old
- Critics say Abbott catering to donors with special session priorities
- Former deputy constable facing sexual assault charges; other victims sought
- Man on Jet Ski catches goliath grouper off coast
- DPS trooper accused of prostitution
- Two arrested in connection with prostitution spas near The Woodlands
- MEET JOY: Baby elephant born at the Houston Zoo
- Revised Senate health care bill draws Cruz’s support but still short votes
- Heartbreakers in Dickinson and Jackie’s Brickhouse in Kemah Sued by Victim of Drunk Driver
- Galveston Yacht Captain Who Used Phony ID To Hide After Mysterious Deaths Is Sentenced
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick proposes millions for teacher bonuses and retirement
- Texas Republican congressman calls on Trump to keep his kids out of White House
- Trump meeting with France’s Macron in Paris
- Beto O’Rourke posts $2 million in fundraising in bid against Ted Cruz
- As congressional races draw big interest, Democrats still filling out statewide ticket
- Lawmakers failed to end troubled Driver Responsibility Program
- Man sues city, HPD, officer after excessive-force arrest, lawsuit says
- Family escapes SUV after it catches fire, days after purchase
- In court, redistricting battle puts sharper focus on 2013 Legislature
- Push made for change in evaluation of parolees after repeated crimes
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission names lone finalist for new executive director
- U.S. Rep. Al Green joins California Democrat’s effort to impeach President Trump
- Police seek father suspected of causing brain injury to child
- 4 arrested during home invasion in north Harris County, deputies say
- NYC launches $32 million plan to reduce rat population
- Houston public works director placed on leave amid bribery case involving HCC trustee
- Prying Eyes: Border Sheriffs to Use Iris-Scanning Tech in Push for ‘Virtual Wall’
- Trump defends embattled son after Fox News interview
- Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti to get further competency review
- Firefighters demanding pay raise in line with police officer salaries
- Former housekeeper’s son accused in Hedwig Village woman’s murder
- Two women accused of attacking woman with a hammer
- Woman, children left devastated after husband murdered by ex
- New executive director appointed to troubled Texas liquor agency
- U.S. Sens. Cornyn and Cruz sidestep questions about Trump and Russia
- Don’t throw rocks in glass cars? Glass concept car unveiled
- Community removes basketball hoop from park due to profanity
- Tow truck driver finds father of 4 shot to death outside SW Houston apartments
- Susan Combs, Fierce Critic of Endangered Species Act, Tapped for Agency in Charge of its Implementation
- Harris County will not join suit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law
- Report: Shopping for electricity is getting cheaper in Texas
- Jenna Bush Hager goes through astronaut training at NASA’s JSC
- Trump Jr. tweets email chain on meeting with Russian lawyer
- Beachgoers form human chain to rescue family in water
- Five New Laws that Will Likely Get Texas Sued (Or Already Have)
- Sketch released of woman sought in northwest Houston shooting
- Video shows police officer violently beating homeless woman
- Voting rights battle in Pasadena could have Texas-wide legal ramifications
- Trial over Texas political maps starts in San Antonio
- 2 charged with capital murder after shooting man during drug deal, dumping body, police say
- Astros reach All-Star break in midst of historic season
- Willie Nelson on the road again, coming to Sugar Land’s Smart Financial Centre
- Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SB 4 During Special Session
- Woman sought in shooting near Missouri City
- Shots fired at officers in southeast Houston, police say
- Man arrested after alleged road rage incident
- Report: Loopholes Allow Polluters to Get Away With Worsening Air Quality
- Corvette-driving North Carolina priest arrested in Florida road-rage incident
- Prosecutors: 12 people rescued after being locked in sweltering truck
- Abbott officially calls special session, allowing lawmakers to begin filing bills
- SWAT standoff at southeast Houston lounge turns out to be misunderstanding, police say
- Acting director of Texas liquor agency abruptly quits
- With 2018 election looming, Texas back in court over political maps
- This Texan’s daughter needed medical marijuana, so he moved to Colorado
- 11 teens hospitalized after eating drug-laced gummy bears
- Upcoming Area Live Music Shows thru August
- Man catches 1,033-pound hammerhead shark in Texas City fishing tournament
- Handcuffs couldn’t stop man from proposing to girlfriend
- Austinite and former intern for House Speaker Straus killed in Greece
- Counterprotesters outnumber, confront Klan supporters at Virginia KKK rally
- Sen. Ted Cruz speaks with CVA at town hall meeting in Houston
- Woman pleads guilty to voting twice for Donald Trump in US election
- Biker gang member added to Texas Top 10 fugitives by DPS:
- Mother charged with child endangerment after leaving 4 children in hot car, police say
- Harris County judge suspended without pay amid drug, prostitution allegations
- Blue bullfrog reported in Iowa
- Texans to be allowed to carry swords, machetes in public places:
- Cop accused of robbing dead man had other troubles…
- Inmate’s escape: Phones, wire cutters, a drone and $47,000
- Federal judge throws out effort by UT professors to overturn campus carry
- US economy rebounds, adding 222,000 jobs in June
- Warren Buffett unveils deal to buy big piece of Texas electric grid
- Celebratory gunfire enters child’s room at Oak Forest home
- Back home in Texas, Cruz confronts health care politics
- Two more liquor regulators leaving troubled TABC
- Ex-Texas City police officer facing theft, drug charges
- Trump administration: New Texas voter ID law fixes discrimination
- Lawmaker urged Abbott to veto bill legalizing hot air balloon hog hunting
- ‘Habitual offenders’ caught during theft, arrested, police say
- City threatens veteran with fine for flag in front yard
- Abandoned puppy found in airport bathroom with note from owner
- ‘Recipe for Discrimination’: Legal Battle Brews Over New ‘Religious Refusal’ Child Welfare Law
- Paxton’s “friends” are still helping attorney general pay for his legal defense
- US intelligence: North Korea launched new kind of missile
- Trump at odds with many G20 nations on several issues
- Father drowns saving son, 5, at San Luis Pass
- Female NYPD officer shot in the head, dies in hospital
- La Porte firefighter accused of driving drunk, crashing truck into child’s bedroom
- My grandfather was a death row doctor. He tested psychedelic drugs on Texas inmates.
- Residents concerned over dangerous intersection after 4 crashes in 1 month
- Small dog survives after being thrown from moving vehicle on I-10
- Body found in Lake Livingston during search for missing man, 1 day after wife’s body found
- Man catches massive 964-pound shark during Texas City fishing tournament
- Woman, 79, ‘brutally murdered’ in Hedwig Village home put up fight, officials say
- Menacing monkeys video shows animals charging family
- Gator’s Rant: Trump to meet with Putin
- Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4
- Video: ‘Freedom’ Rally Brings Alt-Right Groups to Austin for Fourth of July Weekend
- Why one of the largest counties in Texas is going back to paper ballots
- Man arrested, accused of impersonating police officer
- Embattled Texas liquor agency announces third high-level departure
- Christie defends use of beach closed to public amid shutdown
- Man pretends to be FBI agent after crash, police say
- Illegal Immigrants Returning To Mexico For American Jobs
- Texas City commissioner charged in Galveston Causeway crash that killed 2
- Fox Tucker gets cut off when talking about the Uranium deal ... technical difficulties LOL October 18, 2017submitted by /u/petereddit6635 [link] [comments]/u/petereddit6635
- Jesus is actually going on Ellen... October 18, 2017submitted by /u/nnDMT420 [link] [comments]/u/nnDMT420
- “State Department reveals 2,800 Huma Abedin government documents on Weiner’s laptop”-Clinton Email Federal Court Hearing Thursday, October 19 October 18, 2017submitted by /u/onelove1979 [link] [comments]/u/onelove1979
- No one in /Conspiracy gives a shit about Harvey Weinstein, fake accounts have to be posting about it to move Las Vegas posts to bottom October 18, 2017I mean, come on, I can’t be the only one browsing /conspiracy thinking, with all that just happened in Vegas, do people really care about Harvey Weinstein here? I’ve been thinking it for days, but now, felt compelled to address it. I think there are tons of fake accounts posting all this Weinstein nonsense here […]/u/smerff
- CIA urges POTUS Trump to delay release of 3,000 never-before-seen documents on assassination of John F. Kennedy October 18, 2017submitted by /u/jsuibck [link] [comments]/u/jsuibck
- r/conspiracy is falling (or being pushed) into the abyss, despite recent popularity increase. 1st class suppression of free thought debate, no way there is 3,559 people on here, yet we cant prove it October 17, 2017submitted by /u/NewPerspectiveTruth [link] [comments]/u/NewPerspectiveTruth
- I’m starting to buy in to all this October 17, 2017This morning I posted a link about the FBI Hilary/Obama coverup and Today I was banned from r/News. I am shocked, I know I shouldn’t be. There is a massive conspiracy to lie, hide, and misinform the masses. **** EDIT screen shot of the ban, https://ibb.co/i8dcO6 **** submitted by /u/TheRealBob_Belcher [link] [comments]/u/TheRealBob_Belcher
- R/NEWS censorship of Russian bribery plot before Obama administration October 17, 2017submitted by /u/GalacticCannibalism [link] [comments]/u/GalacticCannibalism
- Conspiracy Theory: Soros is moving money the same day the Obama/Hillary/Mueller Russia deal hit the news October 17, 2017Soros is the top of the pyramid for a giant RICO conspiracy. This deal means the FBI (at least a few people) helped The Clinton Foundation accept bribes for a Uranium One deal. This means Mueller, who was head of FBI at the time allowed it to happen. This means FBI was aware of pay […]/u/facereplacer3
- User in /r/Socialism accidentally realizes that the 1% are pitting us against each other so we never notice it’s the rich who are destroying society. Another user tells OP to ignore this and to continue following the approved narrative. As of now the mods have deleted the post. October 17, 2017submitted by /u/Inelon_ [link] [comments]/u/Inelon_
- Is no one else comprehending the fact that they put a senior citizen in a jail cell because she said something that contradicted her government? Holy fucking shit we are living in clown world. October 17, 2017submitted by /u/Inelon_ [link] [comments]/u/Inelon_
- FYI: the story that broke today about the Obama admin & Russia collusion is NOT old news. Yes, we knew they were involved in the sale of uranium but the kickbacks & other corruption is NEW & still developing. October 17, 2017And I'm getting annoyed as fuck that people are saying "look how long it took for this investigation to bring this to light... Trumps investigation will take a long time to bring truth too." Correct me if I'm wrong but the way I've interpreted this story is that the FBI investigation started* in 2009 and […]/u/okokok7654
- "Let's wait to see what Hillary has to say in interviews today. She cancelled them all? Oh." October 17, 2017The most obvious sign of guilt is her panic - just as she did the night she realized she just helped Trump win the election. What did she do? She vanished. First time a presidential nominee failed to concede in how long? Hiding is in her nature and she's doing it right now. When she […]/u/SixVISix
- This type of bullshit on Reddit that controls the narrative October 17, 2017submitted by /u/don_tiburcio [link] [comments]/u/don_tiburcio
- RED FLAG: George Soros has just transferred $18 billion dollars to the Open Society Foundation. Something is brewing... October 17, 2017It has jus been reported as of 3 hours ago that George Soros has just transferred a staggering $18 billion dollars to the Open Society Foundation, prompting question and concern. Something big is brewing.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1abcRocxOxo http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/17/soros-transfers-18-billion-to-his-open-society-foundations/ submitted by /u/The_SaltLife [link] [comments]/u/The_SaltLife
- Fox Tucker gets cut off when talking about the Uranium deal ... technical difficulties LOL October 18, 2017
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For the first time in Texas, public charter schools will receive state funding to pay for leasing and maintaining buildings and facilities — expanding their access to the state’s limited money for public schools.
In August, the Legislature passed House Bill 21, a school finance law that included up to $60 million annually for charter facilities funding beginning in fiscal year 2018-19. That funding will be divided per student among the charter schools that meet state standards. Charter advocates, who have petitioned for decades to get such funding, argue that the law is the first step toward receiving the same total dollars per student as traditional school districts. However, critics counter that the law diverts funds from the larger number of students who attend traditional public schools.
Traditional public school districts primarily pay for facilities through bonds repaid with local taxes. Some receive help with bond payments through two state funding programs passed in the 1990s. Instructional funds come from a different pot of state and local money.
Publicly funded and privately managed, charter schools do not levy taxes and, until this year, did not receive any state funding for facilities. They receive the average per-student funding of all traditional school districts, and have used that for both instruction and facilities.
In 2012, the Texas Charter School Association sued the state for facilities funding, arguing their schools were being funded inequitably by the state. The $60 million allotted through HB 21 will help charters that have not been able to build on existing property to serve more students, said David Dunn, the association’s executive director. “This is a good first step. It’s a great start toward covering the gap in funding, but it doesn’t get us the whole way,” he said.
This year, Houston-based YES Prep charter carved $3 million out of a state instructional allotment of about $86 million to fund repairs across 14 of its 17 campuses in the city. HB 21 would provide administrators with just under $3 million for those repairs, meaning an additional $3 million is free to spend in the classrooms.
“It’s still not enough in the long run,” YES Prep CEO Mark DiBella said. “It won’t be enough to cover maintenance alone. It certainly won’t be enough to cover any new buildings.”
The same school finance law also provided a $60 million boost for one of the state facilities funding programs passed in the 1990s, which will help some traditional school districts repay their bonds. But the majority of Texas’ fastest-growing school districts receive no state support for facilities and will not see any through this law, said Guy Sconzo, executive director of the Fast Growth Schools Coalition, which advocates for such districts.
Sconzo said he was disappointed that the Legislature granted 5 million students in school districts the same total amount for facilities as the 300,000 in charter schools. “There’s something grossly inequitable about that,” he said.
Mike Feinberg, founder of KIPP charter schools, said the $60 million allotted to charters in the law would not have been enough to fund all the traditional public schools that need it. “This is not game-changing money at the end of the day” for fast-growing school districts, he said. “It’s hard to rationalize how $60 million would have made a big difference when what they needed is in the billions.”
The state is working toward increasing the number of high-performing charter schools. Currently, the number of charter licenses is capped statewide at 305 by 2019, and about 171 are operational at latest state count. The U.S. Department of Education last week granted the Texas Education Agency $38 million in grants for the 2017 fiscal year to expand its charter schools — one of nine awards to state agencies across the country.
With the door open for charters to get state facilities funding, charter and traditional public school advocates will be vying for funding increases from the same pot of limited money in future legislative sessions.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and figure out how we continue to advocate for more facilities funding,” DiBella said. “Across the board, [the school finance system] is not equitable.”
Disclosure: The Fast Growth School Coalition has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
LA MARQUE— As hundreds of parents sat nervously in the La Marque High School auditorium last Thursday, Nicole Gardner stood from her seat and raised her hand to ask what was on everyone’s minds.
“I was wondering how long this relocation is going to last.”
The response was just as Gardner, the mother of a kindergarten and second-grade student, had feared.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know,” said Susan Myers, Texas City ISD deputy superintendent.
Gardner’s children are enrolled in two of three schools in Texas City ISD closed temporarily due to damage from Hurricane Harvey, pushing officials to relocate about 1,600 students to other buildings within the district, starting Monday. For parents and administrators of the three closed schools, the flooding means more disruption in a period already marked by upheaval.
In 2016, the state forced the Galveston Bay school district to annex, or absorb, its neighboring district, and once football rival, La Marque ISD, which was hemorrhaging enrolled students and failing to prepare those who stayed for graduation. For months, tensions were high with rumors swirling that outside forces had conspired to destroy La Marque’s schools. When school started last fall, people from both communities were nervous about how their hybrid district would work.
“This year, it feels like we’re redoing last year,” said Flo Adkins, principal of La Marque Middle School, as parents queued up around her to pick up their kids’ new building assignments Thursday evening. “You know, when the annexation and all that happened, it feels like there was so much anxiety in the community.”
The three buildings flooded due to Harvey all belonged to former La Marque ISD, where the newest school building was constructed 47 years ago. Texas City ISD was promised $17 million over five years from the state in June to improve its recently acquired, neglected facilities. In just a few days, Hurricane Harvey, slow-moving and destructive, knocked back the timeline for renovation.
“We got through last year with the annexation, we can get through anything,” Adkins said. She pulled out her phone and swiped through photos of Texas City teachers helping their La Marque colleagues fill boxes with school supplies Thursday morning. The storm will bring the district closer together, she said.
Hundreds of parents filled the La Marque High School auditorium Thursday evening, after two weeks of cancelled classes, to hear the plans district administrators had for where and how to relocate their students. They were terrified and unhappy.
Administrators made sure to stay cheery as they explained how students from three La Marque schools that cover preK through eighth grade would temporarily attend classes in other school buildings, starting Monday. All their teachers and principals would go with them. They would all get free meals, and new bus routes as needed. Teachers would work hard to get students academically on track. Students, including some who lost their homes in the storm, would finally have a routine again.
“Our teachers know right now our instruction has to be intentional and intensive,” said Ricky Nicholson, La Marque High School Principal. “We have to the stop the bleeding on the loss of instructional days.”
Gardner was trembling as she later lined up to get a copy of the map showing her where her children would temporarily attend school, miles away in Texas City. Her second grader is behind in math and reading, and now has missed two weeks of instruction. The family moved from Deer Park to La Marque, before the start of the new year. “I’m hoping it’ll be six weeks or something,” she said, estimating the length of the school closures. “I feel like it will be two or three months.”
The main priority, officials repeated over and over, was to keep La Marque students in Texas City ISD.
“We’re one big school district,” said Superintendent Rodney Cavness, new to Texas City this year, to the crowd of attentive parents. “Annexation, all that’s behind us.”
Not everyone was buying it. Monique Lazard planned to transfer her daughter Radiance Willson from Dickinson ISD to Texas City ISD this fall. When Lazard heard her 11-year-old would be studying in the same building as 17 and 18-year-olds, she immediately decided to re-enroll her in Dickinson ISD instead.
Already prone to letting water leak in, La Marque Middle School filled with two inches of water during last month’s hurricane. Those students will be relocated to La Marque High School, two miles away. Administrators promised to keep the two student bodies on different floors of the building, with no overlap, and to ensure teachers accompanied the fifth and sixth graders around the high school.
“Although they say they’re going to separate it, kids will be kids,” Lazard said. “Texas City can’t tell me there’s not other schools.”
She said she didn’t expect a better solution from the district. “Texas City and La Marque have always had their separation,” she said. “Even though it’s supposed to be one district now, there’s still a lot of separation. And it’s not good.”
Lazard and her children are still living in a home that filled with three feet of water over the course of the storm — among hundreds inundated in La Marque and Texas City. She was denied a hotel voucher through federal shelter assistance but she has filed for long-term federal disaster assistance while looking for a safer place to live.
Texas City ISD officials will soon submit a flood insurance claim for the damaged schools. They are also working with a FEMA consultant to apply for federal public assistance, along with all the other qualifying municipalities and institutions in 43 counties included in the federal disaster declaration.
Before the flood, La Marque buildings were safe, but not in good shape, projected to need $42 million for repairs and about $100 million for replacement. The state granted Texas City ISD $17 million over a five-year period in June to fix the buildings.
Meanwhile, Texas City ISD replaced and renovated the Texas City buildings in 2007, after its voters approved a $118 million bond referendum. Those buildings weathered the storm.
“All Texas City ISD students deserve the same educational experience,” said former Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo, who lobbied the state for the $17 million this winter. That dream of equity is now even further away.
Heather Dummar toiled for three weeks last summer hanging sheets of corrugated metal from the walls and constructing long tables and stools to transform her eighth-grade English classroom in La Marque Middle School into an “industrial coffee shop.” She spent more than $1,000 of her own money to bring to life the calming environment she found at her local coffee shop in college.
“It was more than just slapping up posters,” she said.
It took her and a team of Texas City ISD teachers three hours last Thursday to pack up all the textbooks and pencils they would need to hold classes in a completely different building, as contractors in the middle school rip out soggy drywall and bleach the mold that had started to grow at the base of the chair legs.
None of the coffee shop’s decorations went with Dummar to La Marque High School. Her new temporary classroom was previously used for high school science and has laboratory tables attached to the walls. She went back to her middle school classroom to pack up books Thursday and saw some of the chalkboard paint peeling off the walls and the dirty water line two inches up the corrugated metal.
“That’s heartbreaking, because that’s our home,” she said.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series about the declining participation in Texas’ summer meals programs for students. You can read the first story here.
REKLAW — Clara Crawford tapped the horn three times. Seconds later, two young boys ran down the steps of their house, their mother waving goodbye from the porch.
Each summer, most days of the week, the 86-year-old Crawford drives a 1995 Ford cargo van 35 miles to gather up about 20 hungry children in Fairview, an unincorporated community in Rusk County, and the neighboring city of Reklaw. She takes them to a program she runs at a local community center where they can play basketball in the hot sun and get a full lunch plus a snack.
In this sparsely populated part of East Texas, where some houses don’t have regular access to potable water, for seven years Crawford and her blue van have been providing a summer lifeline to kids who otherwise might be home alone and without a healthy meal.
The Texas Department of Agriculture administers a summer meals program providing federal reimbursement for school districts and nonprofits to give out meals to hungry children — but in recent years, the program has failed to draw students in, with July participation rates crashing by 20 percent in 2016.
Experts and even the state have had trouble pinpointing exactly why, but they cite lack of transportation as the main reason rural Texas kids can’t reach free summer meals available at hundreds of locations across the state. The federal government does not compensate school districts or nonprofits for getting students to and from the free meal sites.
Which is why folks like Crawford who are willing to drive kids to those meals are so important. Despite the tight pickup schedule, Crawford sometimes finds herself waiting several minutes longer than planned outside a particular house, hoping a kid will hear the honks and rush out. Most of their parents are working, or are stuck at home with illnesses or disabilities, she said.
“I hate to not get them if they want to come,” she said, peering over the steering wheel anxiously. Every summer, she considers giving up on this volunteer chauffeur gig. She’s old and doesn’t need the extra stress. But then she wonders: Who else would do it?
The need for volunteers like Crawford goes beyond this corner of East Texas. In the tiny Panhandle town of Quitaque, residents also struggle to find summer volunteers to help provide food to hungry children after the local school had to end its program. Rural communities across the state face similar challenges.
In Texas, more than 4 million people don’t always know where their next meal will come from, often resorting to skipping meals, buying less food or choosing between buying food and paying other bills. Though it’s decreased over the years, the percentage of people at risk of hunger in Texas is significantly higher than the national average.
Even in towns that have a summer meal program, “if a site’s half a mile from a kid’s home, they’re unlikely to walk up there, let alone five or 10 miles,” said Tim Butler, coordinator of child hunger programs at the East Texas Food Bank, which gets federal money to provide meals for program sponsors like Crawford who want to feed kids locally.
The food bank also pays for Crawford’s gas and vehicle upkeep through a privately-funded “rural transportation grant.” Without that extra financial boost, kids in Fairview might not make it to the community center.
The federal government used to offer similar transportation grants to rural organizations that sponsored free summer meal programs, but it ended them after 2008 when the funding ran out, calling them “cost inefficient” for supporting rural areas.
‘It used to be a big community’
A lifelong Fairview resident, Crawford is related to many of the kids in the area, or knows them well enough that they’re basically family. As she drove — never faster than a steady 45 miles per hour — she spun out the stories imprinted in the lush landscape crowded with pine trees. She pointed out the place where, at eight years old, she got paid $3 daily to plant tomatoes. The place where her dad drove a tractor on another man’s farm. And all the empty places left by folks who moved to the cities.
“There used to be a lot of people here. Now they let their trailers rot here. It used to be a big community,” Crawford said ruefully.
Larger school districts in East Texas don’t typically need someone like Crawford because they can usually offer their own programs, and sponsor others nearby. The East Texas Food Bank seeks to fill the smaller, more rural gaps across 26 counties and 20,000 square miles, in a region where one of every five adults and one in every four children is at risk of going hungry.
“There are tons of communities out there with little resources and low population,” Butler said.
Partnering with people like Crawford ensures the meal sites draw more kids, Butler said. “They know the people in the community. They know how to get something started. They know where the kids are.”
Besides the 20 kids Crawford drives to the community center, two or three wander over on their own, chattering and playing while the adults start to hand out food. At 14, Erica McCuin is one of the oldest in the room. She ends up watching over the younger ones, sitting and joking with them as they bite into cheeseburgers with whole grain buns and pick seeds out of orange slices.
She’s visiting her aunt for the summer two towns over and said without the program, she’d end up hanging around her aunt’s house. “I’d sit down and watch TV or play on my phone,” she said.
McCuin’s aunt, Savannah Williams, is one of three women who found out about the program through the local church and volunteer to run it. They said they’re determined to keep it going after Crawford someday turns in her car keys.
Panhandle volunteers try to restart summer meals
While volunteers in East Texas fight to keep kids fed, volunteers more than 400 miles away in a small Panhandle town are trying to bring back summer meals after the local school shut its program down.
In Quitaque — recently proclaimed the bison capital of Texas for its proximity to a herd of the shaggy beasts in neighboring Caprock Canyons State Park — a third of the 478 residents lives below the poverty line, nearly double the state average, according to recent Census estimates.
Kay Calvert wears a few hats for Quitaque, as a founder and president of the local emergency food pantry and assistant vice president at First National Bank. She’s working with a local teacher to apply for federal funding to start a summer meals site in Quitaque for local kids, to take some financial pressure off their parents.
Having lived in Quitaque most of her life, Calvert was ignorant of the depth of need in the community until she helped start the food pantry 13 years ago.
She fought back tears when she told the story of seeing a pair of young siblings cooking beans on the stove in a house otherwise empty of food. At another house, a volunteer for the pantry checked in on an elderly woman and found cat food in her fridge — and no cat in the house.
“I thought I knew our neighbors. I thought I knew everybody was OK,” she said. “Guess what? We don’t take care of our neighbors.”
Turkey-Quitaque ISD Superintendent Jackie Jenkins said the district stopped offering summer meals two years ago, around the same time it stopped hosting summer school for lack of funding. Before that, Jenkins drove a van taking kids home from summer school and bringing sandwiches and fruit to hungry kids who were not able to attend the summer classes. She knew parents were likely working in the fields and unable to drive kids even 10 miles to get lunch.
“We knew it would be hard for them to come out here, so we delivered them,” Jenkins said. But the federal program that paid for the district’s meal program didn’t cover those transportation costs. Now the closest program is in Memphis, a town almost 50 miles to the northeast.
Local food pantry is a lifeline
It’s not just students who need help getting fed. In Quitaque, where the tiny town center is surrounded by thousands of acres of red-dirt cotton fields, many residents are day laborers, cleaning homes and mowing yards in town or working on farms seasonally during the cotton harvest.
“There’s not enough work here in these small communities. But yet they want to raise their kids here because it’s the cheapest place they can live,” Calvert said. “They don’t want to go to the cities because they can’t survive in the cities.”
The local food pantry, Tri-County Meals, collaborates with the regional High Plains Food Bank to bring boxes of food each month to elderly people and families who are regularly deciding whether to pay for heat during the winter or buy groceries at the single store in town. The food bank trucks the food to an old fire station in Quitaque, and volunteers from three nearby towns haul it away for local distribution.
By noon, the floors and tables in the old station are piled high with boxes of all types of foods: organic baby spinach, bananas, croissants and other assorted breads, packages of Hamburger Helper (popular with the kids), giant frosted chocolate cakes.
The box of food Judy Myers and her brother Danny Barrett receive every month from the mobile food bank gets their family almost through the full 30 days. Myers, 55, a former prison employee, and Barrett, 57, a former mail carrier, both had to stop working because of chronic health problems. Myers has back and kidney issues; her brother suffers complications from diabetes.
They live together in a house that sits on 200 acres that’s been in the family for nearly a century. Myers has about $1,700 in pension payments coming in each month, and they both are applying for disability benefits.
Last Christmas was “really black in our house,” Myers said, sitting on her back porch with two kittens napping at her feet. “We had nothing at the time to cook with.”
They got an emergency food delivery through Tri-County Meals. In January, when her daughter Breanna turned 12, Myers asked the food pantry for cupcakes so Breanna could hand them out to her classmates.
But during the summer, Breanna is home from school, and Myers babysits her 2-year-old grandson — two extra mouths to feed during the day. Myers said she wishes the school district was still giving out free food in the summer, to take some of the pressure off her wallet.
Local kindergarten and first-grade math teacher Shadi Buchanan is working with Calvert to re-start a summer meals program in Quitaque, applying for reimbursement from the federal government.
But first they need committed volunteers. Parents and teachers already serve several roles for the school district, transporting kids to sports practices or teaching four or five different grades of a subject, because the district can’t afford to hire additional employees.
“It takes us all to run this village, and I think sometimes it’s overwhelming to say, ‘Here’s one more thing to do,’” she said.
Buchanan wants to run the program at two separate sites, one providing meals in Quitaque and the other in Turkey, so students don’t have to make the trek more than 10 miles to school for a free meal without a bus. Jenkins has her fingers crossed that enrollment will increase once school starts in late August since more students means more state money to spend on school programs.
In the meantime, Calvert and the rest of the team at the pantry will continue to serve as many families as possible, for as long as they have the money.
“They’re out there if we open our eyes and look. The need is out there,” Calvert said. “We can only do so much.”
Following the deaths of nine people in what police are calling a “human trafficking crime,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to Facebook Sunday to highlight the importance of cracking down on “sanctuary cities.”
Police found eight people dead in a tractor-trailer in a Walmart parking lot early Sunday morning, with no air conditioning in the sweltering summer heat, according to the San Antonio Express-News. One later died in the hospital, and about 20 survivors suffered from heat stroke and dehydration. Some survivors identified themselves as Mexican nationals.
Patrick wrote the incident was indicative of why Senate Bill 4 is so important. The law, scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, requires local authorities to cooperate with federal immigration officials and allows police to ask about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain.
“Today’s tragedy is why I made passing Senate Bill 4 to ban sanctuary cities — which is now law — a top priority,” Patrick, a Republican, wrote on his Facebook page Sunday afternoon, with a link to an ABC News report. “Sanctuary cities entice people to believe they can come to America and Texas and live outside the law. Sanctuary cities also enable human smugglers and cartels. Today, these people paid a terrible price and demonstrate why we need a secure border and legal immigration reform so we can control who enters our country. We continue to pray for the families and friends of the victims.”
The cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and El Cenizo are among the local governments suing Texas over the law.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a formal statement with no mention of SB 4, instead highlighting the importance of a bill he signed to help the trucking industry report signs of human trafficking.
“The loss of these lives is a heartbreaking tragedy,” he said. “Human trafficking is an epidemic that Texas is working to eradicate. To that end, Texas will continue to provide protection for the victims who have been robbed of their most basic rights, and bring down the full weight of the law for the perpetrators of this despicable crime.”
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
The Senate Finance Committee Saturday approved a proposal Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listed as a priority for Texas education: providing bonuses and pay raises for long-term teachers, and reduced health-care costs for retired teachers.
The committee voted 10-3 to approve Senate Bill 19, authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, which would provide $193 million for teacher bonuses starting September 2018, put $212 million into state-run health insurance for retired teachers, and require school districts to increase teacher pay by $1,000 starting in 2019.
The senators who voted for the measure were Republicans; those who opposed it were Democrats. State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, was present but decided not to vote.
The full Senate could consider the bill as soon as Monday.
Educators and activists who testified opposed the part of the bill requiring districts to raise teacher pay, since it would not necessarily come with additional money from the state.
Nelson proposed borrowing money for the bonuses and health benefits from the Health and Human Services Commission, by deferring payments to health care companies that provide Medicaid through the state’s privatized system. “I will work to ensure that the deferral will not affect any services” for Medicaid, Nelson said.
She called SB 19 a “bridge” while legislators work to solve larger issues with the school finance system.
Legislators argued about whether, and how, to turn the short-term changes in the bill into long-term solutions to help teachers. With limited flexibility in the budget, which has already been approved by the governor, they are looking for creative ways to fund provisions they hope to pass during the special session.
Even with the additional money through SB 19, the state-run Teacher Retirement System will see a projected shortfall of $500 million to $700 million in 2020-2021, which will increase to $2 billion by 2022-2023, according to Brian Guthrie, TRS executive director. School employees have absorbed most of the healthcare premium increases over the years, with state and district inputs remaining close to fixed.
“We say we’re going to make a commitment, but we are also saying we’re not going to increase the state statutory contribution rate,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.
Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association, begged the panel not to let political debate get in the way of accomplishing TRS reform during the special session.
“I am almost begging you. Please do not let the session end with nothing happening,” he said.
“We are going to stay focused,” Nelson responded, despite likely disagreement with the House on how to pay for school finance issues. She called the House’s willingness to use the Rainy Day Fund, a pot of emergency cash for the state, a “false promise” and short-term solution.
Educators opposed the part of the bill that would require school districts to fund teacher pay raises, without the promise of state funding to help bolster the cost. “We don’t want to have to reprioritize money from within our districts to find money” for pay raises, said Tonja Gray, a member of the Association of Texas Professional Educators and a reading intervention teacher at Abilene ISD. “I would rather have nothing than this bill.”
“It’s this or nothing,” Nelson said. She argued there are ways to fund the pay raises, which would start in 2019. Legislators would have to decide how to fund the pay raises during the next legislative session.
Disclosure: The Texas Retired Teachers Association and the Association of Texas Professional Educators have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The Senate Education Committee got two major bills out of the way Friday, passing legislation that would create a “private school choice” program and start a commission to study the school finance system.
The committee voted 8-2 to pass Senate Bill 2, creating a tax credit scholarship subsidizing private school tuition for students with disabilities. It voted 10-0 to pass Senate Bill 16, which would task a 13-person committee of legislators and educators with developing recommendations on how to fix the beleaguered system for funding public schools before the 2019 regular session.
The bills could be taken up on the Senate floor as soon as Monday.
Gov. Greg Abbott listed both issues in his 20-bill agenda for the July-August special session, which the Senate has wasted no time in tackling, with several committees set to meet through the weekend.
Parents, educators and activists sat in front of the Senate panel from 10 a.m. until just after 6 p.m. to explain how subsidizing private school tuition for students with disabilities would sap resources from public schools, or how it would offer families a wider array of options.
Abigail Tassin, a 17-year-old Fort Bend ISD student with Down Syndrome, asked legislators not to pass the bill, instead urging them to focus on improving public schools’ resources for kids with disabilities.
“I want to be with everyone else,” she said. “Help my teachers be able to help me better.”
SB 2 is similar to several proposals that its author, Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, pitched to the Senate during the regular session. Insurance companies would receive premium tax credits in exchange for contributions to scholarship organizations.
An estimated 6,000 students with disabilities would receive up to $10,000 in scholarships to private schools under the bill. In addition, an estimated 26,000 eligible students with disabilities could receive up to $500, if they stay in their school districts, to pay for transportation or needed services. The tax credits for businesses would be capped at $75 million per year.
Tara Cevallos, principal of St. Austin’s Catholic School, said Catholic schools do not have all the resources to provide services for students with special needs, but that tax credit scholarships would help them. Private schools can provide a “niche approach,” because they have so few students, she said.
Taylor also added a few unrelated programs to the bill, including $60 million for charter schools, $60 million for facilities funding for traditional public schools, and $150 million for a hardship grant program for struggling small, rural schools that relied on a now-expired state aid program.
The $270 million for those programs would be borrowed from the Health and Human Services Commission, by delaying payments to health care companies providing Medicaid.
Sen. Bob Hall, R-Canton, said he was concerned about that “deficit spending,” before he voted yes on the bill. “I would hope that between now and when we get to the floor, we find a way to solve that problem,” he said.
Monty Exter, a lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said adding programs that school districts actually want to a “private school choice” bill prevents in-depth discussion of school funding. He said the bill would not help improve public schools for kids with special needs who decide to remain in that system.
“One of the biggest philosophical problems we have with this bill is that it changes the mentality from ‘Let’s fix the problems that we have’ … to saying, ‘Well, now we’ve provided you with this out,’ ” he said.
The committee took under an hour to hear testimony and approve a bill that would create a 13-member commission to study the school finance system. The commission would have four members appointed by the governor, four appointed by the lieutenant governor, four appointed by the House Speaker, and a member of the State Board of Education. It would deliver recommendations to the Legislature by Dec. 31, 2018, intended to guide lawmakers during the 2019 legislative session.
Policy experts who testified asked the bill’s author to make the commission more transparent about how it conducted the study.
“We would appreciate the opportunity to ensure that the public can in some fashion or procedure submit public comments to the commission,” said Steve Aleman, policy specialist with Disability Rights Texas.
Taylor said regular public input was unlikely. “Generally someone who just comes from the public, they have a very limited view of public education Texas,” he said. “I don’t foresee us having a public hearing every time.”
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.
Texas legislators could end up passing bills to reform the state’s school finance system and help out retired teachers this special session.
After the Senate voted early Thursday morning to pass a bill keeping several key state agencies alive, Gov. Greg Abbott immediately expanded the special session agenda by adding 19 items — and dramatically expanded the focus of two education-related priorities he had announced last month.
When Abbott announced his call for the special session in June, he said he would ask legislators to increase teacher pay by $1,000, and to establish a commission to recommend improvements to the beleaguered school finance system. The expanded call Thursday would allow legislators to pass bills improving a state-run health care plan for retired teachers and making major reforms to the school finance system, including the extension of a state aid program that would help mostly small, rural school districts.
The governor’s announcement came almost a week after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held an education-themed news conference to discuss school finance and teacher pay increases, a departure from his priorities during the regular session.
Patrick proposed a plan, funded through the Texas Lottery, that would provide bonuses for long-term and retired teachers, add $200 million to the Teacher Retirement System, and give $150 million to struggling small, rural districts that lost money through an expired state aid program.
Abbott’s additions of the new items appear to be a nod to the House, where his overall agenda is expected to face the most resistance. In a speech last month, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said legislators did not need a commission to tell them how to fix the school finance system, because they have already studied the issue at length. Abbott has pushed back against that notion, questioning why legislators have not come to a consensus if they have examined the issue so thoroughly. But the inclusion of retired teacher benefits, school finance reform and a fix for the expired state aid program in the final call looks like an overture to such skeptics.
State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the House public education chairman, welcomed the additions to the special session call — and said that school finance reform was particularly important for legislators to address.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to address this critical need for our children and parents,” Huberty said in a statement to the Tribune Thursday morning. “The House had made this a priority the last two sessions. I am glad the governor added this to the call as he recognizes we need school finance reform to accomplish property tax reform.”
Educator groups on Monday rallied in front of the Capitol against the governor’s agenda, demanding that the Legislature put more state money into public schools and reform the school finance system.
On Thursday morning, a number of House members took to Twitter to thank Abbott for listening to their chamber and adding their priorities to the call.
Huberty filed a bill this week — mirroring one he filed during the regular session — that would inject state money into public schools and simplify the formulas for funding them. It would also help small, rural school districts depending on the expired state aid program.
Several legislators in both chambers have filed bills to increase benefits for retired teachers.
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
With less than a week before the start of a special session of the Texas Legislature, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out a proposal Thursday to give teachers bonuses and increase their retirement benefits, with plans to pay for both long-term using money from the Texas lottery.
Patrick called a press conference to roll out his own priorities for the next 30 days and tear down the House’s plan for revamping a faulty school funding system as a “Ponzi scheme.”
Patrick’s plan, in part, would provide $600 to $1,000 bonuses to long-term and retired teachers, inject $200 million into the Teacher Retirement System, give $150 million to struggling small, rural districts, and provide $60 million for new facilities for fast-growth school districts and charter schools.
Over the next two years, Patrick said, $700 million to pay for the plan would come from a deferral of funds to managed care organizations. Over the long-term, $700 million would be directly allocated from the Texas Lottery if voters approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution to ensure that transfer of funds continues indefinitely.
Patrick called on school districts to reprioritize 5 percent of their funds over the next four years to increase teacher salaries. Districts, he said, “have to be better about how they spend the money. They have to put more focus on teachers.”
Mark Wiggins, lobbyist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said most schools don’t have the financial wiggle room to reallocate funding without additional money from the state. “We haven’t seen any of these proposals. That’s why it’s tough to say where our members would come out on them,” he said.
The House passed a bill during the regular session that would have put $1.5 billion into public schools, in part by deferring a payment to schools to 2019. Patrick Thursday called that budget trick a “dangerous political stunt” and a “Ponzi scheme.”
The Senate tacked a “private school choice” provision to the House’s school finance reform package, effectively killing both issues in the regular session, since House members oppose public subsidies for private schools.
House Speaker Joe Straus and top House education leaders have appeared before education groups in the last month, chastising the Senate for not approving key reforms to the school finance system and refusing to change their positions on controversial issues such as “private school choice.”
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a 20-item agenda for the a special session beginning on July 18, including several education issues that the House and Senate clashed over during the regular session. Patrick stressed Thursday that he supported all 20 items, while pitching a multi-layered plan beyond the governor’s agenda.
Soon after Patrick’s press conference, Abbott praised the lieutenant governor’s efforts.
“My office has been working with lawmakers in both the Senate and House these past six weeks, and if these items do not get passed, it will be for lack of will, not for lack of time,” Abbott said.
Disclosure: The Association of Texas Professional Educators has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The top House education leader said Sunday that “private school choice” is still dead in the lower chamber.
“We only voted six times against it in the House,” House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty said. “I’m prepared to have that discussion again. I don’t think [the Senate is] going to like it — because now I’m pissed off.”
Huberty, R-Houston, told a crowd of school administrators at a panel at the University of Texas at Austin that he plans to restart the conversation on school finance in the July-August special session after the Senate and House hit a stalemate on the issue late during the regular session. Huberty’s bill pumping $1.5 billion into public schools died after the Senate appended a “private school choice” measure, opposed by the House.
Huberty was joined by Education Committee Vice Chairman Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, and committee member Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, on a panel hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators, where they said they didn’t plan to give in to the Senate on the contentious bill subsidizing private school tuition for kids with special needs.
Gov. Greg Abbott has called legislators back to Austin for a July-August special session to tackle a hefty 20-item agenda that includes several public education issues that the Senate and House could not agree on during the legislative session. Huberty, Bernal and VanDeaver on Sunday refused to budge politically from where they stood on major education issues during the regular session.
“I pretty much stand where I stood then,” VanDeaver said.
Educators argue private school choice saps money from the public school system, while proponents say it offers low-income parents choices beyond the limited scope of the public education system.
That position could put the representatives in private school choice advocates’ crosshairs as they gear up for re-election in 2018. Huberty, already a target of efforts to unseat him in the next Republican primary, called it an “onslaught” against public education.
VanDeaver said educators have two options: They can give in to the Senate’s attempts to attach school finance and private school choice, or they can vote against legislators who want those issues linked.
“If you don’t stick up for yourselves in a real way … we are going to lose,” Bernal added.
Abbott put several public education bills on the special session agenda, to be addressed only after the Senate passes crucial “sunset” bills that would keep several state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, operating during the next budget cycle.
Huberty said providing public schools with additional revenue is the only way to decrease local property taxes, another priority of the governor on the agenda for special session. “I’m planning on filing a property tax bill that will address school finance,” he said.
Educators have argued school districts must push for higher taxes because the state is underfunding public schools.
Huberty said he did not know if he would re-file the exact same piece of school finance legislation the House passed in the spring. That bill simplified the formulas for funding public schools and injected $1.5 billion into public schools, in part by using a budget trick to defer a payment to public schools until 2019.
Huberty said the Legislature could still fund the bill by using that mechanism. “If there’s no money, I get it,” he said. “But we got a mechanism set up to be able to deal with it.”
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Texas Association of School Administrators have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.
SAN ANTONIO — Speaking to educators Wednesday, House Speaker Joe Straus took some jabs at the Senate for focusing on a bill to regulate public bathroom use instead of putting more than a billion dollars into public schools.
The lower chamber’s leading politician spoke about the upcoming special session to hundreds of school board members and superintendents in San Antonio on Wednesday evening at the Texas Association of School Boards’ annual summer leadership institute. He urged educators in the room to keep speaking out for the issues important to public schools — and to act.
“There have been a few of you who would make good members of the Texas Senate,” he said, a joke that got him a round of laughter and applause.
Straus’ appearance comes as Texas legislators prepare to return to the Capitol for a July-August special session, with a packed agenda of 20 pieces of legislation Gov. Greg Abbott wants to see passed. Several of those bills would directly affect public schools, including a bill to regulate public bathroom use for transgender Texans.
“I don’t know what all the issues are with bathrooms in our schools, but I’m pretty sure you can handle them, and I know that you have been handling them,” Straus said. He said the “bathroom bill” sends the wrong message about Texas, instead of “making decisions that attract jobs, that attract families.”
Abbott put several public education bills on the special session agenda, to be addressed only after the Senate passes crucial “sunset” bills that would keep several state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, operating next budget cycle.
He asked legislators to revive and pass two specific bills that died in the House — one that would create a commission to study school finance reform and one that would create a voucher-like state program to subsidize private school tuition and homeschooling expenses for kids with disabilities.
School finance reform and “private school choice” died in the same bill late during the regular session. The Senate voted to attach a private school choice program to a major House bill injecting $1.5 billion into public schools. That angered the House, which staunchly opposes subsidies for private schools. Neither side would compromise.
Straus said Wednesday that even if the House had compromised on private school choice, the Senate stripped about $1 billion in funding for public schools. “Even if we approved vouchers, they still cut out the vast majority of the funding we had proposed for public schools, so there was hardly anything left,” he said.
He said the school finance reform study was too little, too late. “The Texas House has been studying this for years. We already passed a bill that’s a very strong first step,” he said. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”
Abbott also put property tax reform on the special session agenda, pushing a provision the House excluded during the regular session to create automatic rollback elections when local property taxes rise by a certain amount.
Educators have argued school districts must push for higher taxes because the state is underfunding public schools. Before Straus arrived, Bret Begert, school board president of Fort Elliott CISD, explained that his property-wealthy school district sends a large portion of its tax revenue back to the state through a program known as “Robin Hood,” where wealthy districts subsidize poorer ones.
“We don’t mind sharing our money, but we don’t want to go broke doing it,” Begert said.
The Senate and House deadlocked on several issues during the regular session, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blaming Straus for blocking legislation that would restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans, cap property taxes and subsidize private school tuition for kids with disabilities.
Straus blamed the Senate for holding sunset measures hostage.
Abbott also added to the special session agenda two provisions that were not debated during the regular session. He called for a $1,000 increase in teacher pay and for more administrator flexibility on hiring and retaining teachers.
Public education advocates worry this means schools will be required to do more with less funding. The governor said in his special session announcement that the increase in teacher pay could be done by “reprioritizing” spending, without additional funding. He also said principals and superintendents need flexibility “to retain and to reward the very best teachers and to replace those who are ineffective.”
Linking those two issues does not bode well for public schools, said Dax Gonzalez, TASB assistant director of government relations. “Something that districts don’t want to get into the position of is giving raises to some by firing others,” he said.