Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2609
By: Giddings
Public Education


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. 


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. 


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

H.B. 2609 requires a district that offers prekindergarten classes to
include in its Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS)

_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. 


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.