News Roundup: Texas Senate Passes School Safety Bill

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 30, 2019 1:43 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Senate has overwhelmingly passed a sweeping school safety bill in the first legislative session since the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School.

Senate Bill 11 seeks to prevent similar tragedies through strengthening school mental health initiatives and ensuring all district employees are prepared to respond to emergencies.

The bill’s author is Republican Sen. Larry Taylor, and Santa Fe High School falls within his district. He says lawmakers can’t afford to do nothing on this issue during the current legislative session.

“A lot time we get caught up here in the legislature that we let perfect become the enemy of the good and today we have before us a bill that is good that will help protect our students and in the future but it’s perfect and we’ll have to continue work on that,” Taylor said.

Only two senators voted against the bill: Republicans Bob Hall and Bryan Hughes.

Texas is spending less to educate public school students during the current 2018-2019 academic year than it did the year before, according to a new analysis of school finance data from the National Education Association, or NEA.

The group found this year the state is spending an average of $10,712 per student in average daily attendance. That’s a $71 drop from the 2017-2018 school year.

Clay Robison is a spokesperson for the Texas State Teachers Association, which is an affiliate of the NEA. He says this data is especially relevant given state lawmakers’ current focus on increasing public school funding.

“It is about time, way past time, that the Texas Legislature address school funding and made a real strong attempt to increase funding for public schools because Texas has for years lagged behind the national average in such key indicators as per student funding and teacher salaries,” Robison says.

According to the NEA, Texas ranks 39th in the country for per student funding in public schools.

The Texas House adopted a resolution Monday honoring a group of female students from Marfa Elementary School. The team of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade girls, known as the “Marfa Martians,” won a contest to get an experiment they designed onto the International Space Station.

State Rep. Poncho Nevarez, an Eagle Pass Democrat, introduced the House Resolution recognizing their achievement.

“What they’ve done is something incredible,” Nevarez said. “They’ve got an experiment entitled ‘eradicating bacteria growth in microgravity.’ And what that has done for them, it’s earned them a seat, and a place on the International Space Station to test this.”

More than 23,000 students entered the contest nationwide and only 41 experiments were selected.