HBA-MPM H.B. 2609 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2609 By: Giddings Public Education 4/12/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, Texas schools fund half-day prekindergarten programs for students with limited English proficiency or students who are homeless or low income. In April 2000, the attorney general ruled that as a public entity, a school district may charge a fee or tuition for such a program only if it is specifically authorized to do so, either by statute or under the constitution. The opinion concluded that a school district may not currently charge tuition for prekindergarten students not automatically eligible for the statesupported program as disadvantaged students because no statute expressly authorizes a school district to do so. Additionally, a complete evaluation of the state's prekindergarten efforts is not possible, because the Texas Education Agency collects only partial data. House Bill 2609 authorizes school districts to charge tuition for an optional half-day or full-day prekindergarten program for students who are not disadvantaged. The bill also includes all state-funded and federally-funded prekindergarten programs in the Public Education Information Management System. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 2609 amends the Education Code to authorize a school district (district) to offer on a tuition basis an additional half-day of prekindergarten classes to children who are eligible for the required prekindergarten classes and half-day and full-day prekindergarten classes to all other children. The bill prohibits a district from adopting a tuition rate that is higher than necessary to cover the added costs of providing the program. The bill also prohibits a district from charging tuition for the required prekindergarten class offered to children who are unable to speak and comprehend English, educationally disadvantaged, or homeless. H.B. 2609 requires a district that offers prekindergarten classes to include in its Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) report: _demographic information, as determined by the commissioner of education, on students enrolled in district prekindergarten classes, including the number of students eligible for the free class; _the numbers of half-day and full-day prekindergarten classes offered by the district; and _the sources of funding for the prekindergarten classes. The bill requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in cooperation with the Texas Department of Human Services, federal Head Start program, and other providers of prekindergarten programs in Texas that receive state and federal funds to develop indicators for evaluating prekindergarten programs. TEA is required to review all district programs receiving state or federal funding using these indicators. The bill requires that such a review be performed as part of the accreditation status. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001. The Act applies beginning with the 2001-2002 school year.