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Texas: Bill filed to "dramatically improve special education"

State Senators Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) filed Senate Bill 1474 to dramatically improve special education in Texas for students with disabilities based on their individual needs.

Both Sen. Bettencourt and Paxton served on the Texas Commission on Special Education Funding Chaired by Stacey Combest in the 87th interim that released a report with recommendations.

“SB 1474 dramatically bolsters support for special education students in three major areas and it’s an important recognition that these students need targeted help to maximize their educational outcomes. The SPED Commission has had a year of worth of great testimony to draw on these major recommendations,” said Senator Bettencourt.

SB 1474 implements the following recommendations from the Texas Commission on Special Education Funding Report. First, SB 1474 will transition the Special Education allotment under the Foundation School Program to a Service Intensity Based Formula System. This is made up of seven weighted funding tiers based on the intensity of services needed by a student. Tier One includes a student in special education receiving direct support in up to two foundation subject areas. While Tier Seven students include students who receive intensive full-time special education services requiring residential placement.

“SB 1474 creates targeted funding that addresses the education of our most vulnerable kids in a more individualized way than ever before. It also incorporates the input of the people who know the kids the best: their parents. I am proud to joint author SB 1474, which will create lasting, transformative, and positive change for our special education students and families.” Said Senator Angela Paxton.

Second, SB 1474 will create an Education Savings Account program for students with disabilities. Under the program a child with a disability must first be eligible to attend public school, then they would receive $7,250 per year, per child. Funds in the program may be used to pay for school tuition, textbooks, fees, meals, and uniforms at private schools. Third, SB 1474 will allow the TEA Commissioner to create a Grant program to recruit retirees to return to teaching special education students in public schools. “I am very proud of our hard work and dedication that made SB 1474 possible,” said Stacey Combest, Texas Commission on SPED Funding Chair.

Senator Bettencourt and Senator Paxton are members of the Senate Education Committee where Committee Chair, Brandon Creighton and the members will hear this bill in a future hearing.

“SB 1474 will focus hundreds of millions of dollars of state resources behind the needs of our Special Education students,” he concluded. Senator Bettencourt will file more education legislation.


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