Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 596
By: Duncan
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 an educational
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 state-supported class 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 districts are not required to report
prekindergarten data as part of a district's Public Education Information
Management System (PEIMS) report.  Senate Bill 596 authorizes school
districts to charge tuition for an optional half-day or full-day
prekindergarten program for students who are not disadvantaged and requires
districts to include prekindergarten data in its PEIMS report. 


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. 


Senate Bill 596 amends the Education Code to authorize a school district
(district) to offer on a tuition basis or use district funds to provide 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 for the program that is higher than
necessary to cover the added costs of providing the program, including any
costs associated with collecting, reporting, and analyzing prekindergarten
data for the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) report.
The bill provides that a district must submit the proposed tuition rate to
the commissioner of education for approval. The bill prohibits a district
from charging tuition for a half-day of prekindergarten class if the child
is at least three years of age and is unable to speak and comprehend
English, educationally disadvantaged, or homeless, as that term is defined
by federal law. 

S.B. 596 requires a district that offers prekindergarten classes to include
in its PEIMS report: 

_demographic information, as determined by the commissioner of education,
on students enrolled in 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.


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.