Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2900
By: Grusendorf
Public Education


Texas currently has a shortage of qualified teachers.  Financial incentives
and other rewards for entering and remaining in the teaching profession may
promote training, recruitment and retention of highly-qualified and
motivated individuals.  H.B. 2900 establishes the Education Excellence
Fund, which is composed of four distinct funds: 

_the Discretionary Excellence Fund, which provides every full-time teacher
$1,000 each school year to use any way the teacher sees fit; 
_the Teacher Tuition Excellence Fund, which provides teachers with five or
more years of full-time service free tuition  to any state university for
post-graduate study in their academic field; 
_the Educational Excellence Fund, which provides a $2,000 bonus to the top
20 percent of the state's teachers and $1,000 to the next 20 percent, as
determined by a commission composed of active classroom teachers; and 
_the Teacher Excellence Signing Bonus Fund, which provides a new classroom
teacher who was either in the top 10 percent of his or her university's
graduating class or who scored in the top 25 percent on the SAT or ACT at
their university a $4,000 bonus on signing a contract to teach at least
five years, or $6,000 if the teacher is in a designated shortage area. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the comptroller of public accounts in
SECTION 1 (Section 21.504, Education Code) of this bill. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Chapter 21, Education Code, by adding Subchapter K, as


purpose of the Education Excellence Fund.  Provides that this fund consists
of the Discretionary Excellence Fund, the Teaching Excellence Fund, the
Teacher Tuition Excellence Fund, and the Excellence Signing Bonus Fund.
Provides that the Education Excellence Fund is authorized to receive
transfers from the general revenue fund, the economic stabilization fund,
or other sources of revenue and to receive donations from public or private
sources.  Makes the provisions of each section of this subchapter
contingent upon the appropriation of sufficient funds into each fund.  

Sec. 21.502.  DISCRETIONARY EXCELLENCE FUND.  (a)  Requires each person
employed as a classroom teacher (teacher) to receive $1,000 yearly to be
held in escrow for the duration of the school year by the teacher's school
district (district). 

(b)  Authorizes a teacher to receive reimbursement from the escrow account
for any expense incurred.  Requires the teacher to have the sole decision
on how the funds in the account are spent.  Prohibits the district from
requiring the teacher to spend the funds on certain items or on
reimbursement of the district for traditionally supplied materials and
classroom expenses. 

(c)  Requires any balance remaining in a teacher's account at the end of a
school year to be paid to the teacher or to accrue to the teacher's account
for the next year, at the teacher's discretion. 

(d)  Authorizes a district holding an escrow account to retain the interest
from that account to cover administrative expenses incurred as a result of
administering this section. 

Sec. 21.503.  TEACHING EXCELLENCE BONUS FUND. (a)  Establishes the
Education Excellence Commission (commission) to adopt criteria for
determining recipients of teaching excellence bonuses. 

(b)  Provides that the commission is composed of 11 members, the majority
of which are required to be teachers, appointed to staggered four-year
terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate.  Requires
appointments to be made without regard to race, color, disability, sex,
religion, age, or national origin. 

(c)  Requires each district to annually select the top two quintiles of
classroom teachers to receive teaching excellence bonuses using criteria
the commission has adopted. Requires the district to forward the names of
the recipients to the commission by a date determined by the commission. 

(d)  Requires the bonuses to be distributed annually.  Recipients in the
top quintile of teachers are required to receive a $2,000 bonus, and those
in the second quintile are required to receive a $1,000 bonus. 

Sec. 21.504.  TEACHER TUITION EXCELLENCE FUND.  (a)  Entitles a teacher who
has been a teacher for five consecutive years to free tuition at any public
senior college or university (college or university) in this state on those
courses that are necessary for one postgraduate degree in the teacher's
academic field of expertise. 

(b)  Requires the comptroller of public accounts (comptroller) to establish
rules for providing a qualifying teacher a tuition voucher to be presented
to a college or university. Authorizes the voucher to be used only on
courses necessary to complete a post-graduate degree program in the
teacher's academic field of expertise.  Requires the comptroller to
reimburse the college or university for the voucher from the Teacher
Tuition Excellence Fund. 

Sec. 21.505.  EXCELLENCE SIGNING BONUS FUND.  (a)  Defines "designated
shortagearea classroom teacher" for purposes of this section. 

(b)  Requires a person employed as a teacher for the first time and who has
not taught prior to June 1, 1999, to receive a $4,000 bonus in return for
signing a contract as a teacher or a $6,000 bonus for signing a contract as
a designated shortage-area teacher if the person signs a written agreement
to teach full-time for five consecutive years and the person meets specific
academic criterion. 

(c)  Requires the signing bonus to be repaid to the Excellence Signing
Bonus Fund in its entirety if the person fails to meet the agreement set
forth in the contract, except under certain circumstances. Requires failure
to repay the signing bonus to be grounds for revocation of an educator
certificate under Section 21.041(b)(7) (Rules; Fees), Education Code
(regarding disciplinary proceedings, including the suspension or revocation
of an educator certificate). 

SECTION 2.  Effective date:  September 1, 1999.

SECTION 3.  Emergency clause.