1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to assistance to certain low-performing public school
 1-3     districts.
 1-5           SECTION 1.  Subchapter I, Chapter 21, Education Code, is
 1-6     amended by adding Section 21.410 to read as follows:
 1-7           Sec. 21.410.  MASTER READING TEACHER GRANT PROGRAM.  (a)  The
 1-8     commissioner shall establish a master reading teacher grant program
 1-9     to encourage teachers to:
1-10                 (1)  become certified as master reading teachers; and
1-11                 (2)  work with other teachers and with students in
1-12     order to improve student reading performance.
1-13           (b)  From funds appropriated for the purpose, the
1-14     commissioner shall make grants to school districts as provided by
1-15     this section to pay stipends to selected certified master reading
1-16     teachers who teach at high-need campuses.
1-17           (c)  The commissioner shall annually identify each high-need
1-18     campus in a school district using criteria established by the
1-19     commissioner by rule, including performance on the reading
1-20     assessment instrument administered under Section 39.023.  The
1-21     commissioner shall also use the criteria to rank campuses in order
1-22     of greatest need.
1-23           (d)  A school district may apply to the commissioner for
1-24     grants for each high-need campus identified by the commissioner to
 2-1     be used to pay stipends to certified master reading teachers in
 2-2     accordance with this section.  Unless reduced under Subsection (g)
 2-3     or (i), each grant is in the amount of $5,000.  The commissioner
 2-4     shall approve the application if the district:
 2-5                 (1)  applies within the period and in the manner
 2-6     required by rule adopted by the commissioner; and
 2-7                 (2)  agrees to use each grant only for the purpose of
 2-8     paying a year-end stipend to a master reading teacher:
 2-9                       (A)  who holds a certificate issued under Section
2-10     21.0481;
2-11                       (B)  who teaches in a position prescribed by the
2-12     district at a high-need campus identified by the commissioner;
2-13                       (C)  whose primary duties include:
2-14                             (i)  teaching reading; and
2-15                             (ii)  serving as a reading teaching mentor
2-16     to other teachers for the amount of time and in the manner
2-17     established by the district and by rule adopted by the
2-18     commissioner; and
2-19                       (D)  who satisfies any other requirements
2-20     established by rule adopted by the commissioner.
2-21           (e)  Unless reduced under Subsection (g) or (i), a stipend
2-22     under Subsection (d)(2) is in the amount of $5,000.
2-23           (f)  The commissioner shall adopt rules for the distribution
2-24     of grants to school districts following the year of the initial
2-25     grant.  A district that has been approved for a grant to pay a
2-26     stipend to a certified master reading teacher is not required to
2-27     reapply for a grant for two consecutive school years following the
 3-1     year of the intitial grant if the district:
 3-2                 (1)  continues to pay a stipend as provided by
 3-3     Subsection (g); and
 3-4                 (2)  notifies the commissioner in writing, within the
 3-5     period and in the manner prescribed by the commissioner, that the
 3-6     circumstances on which the grant was based have not changed.
 3-7           (g)  The commissioner shall reduce payments to a school
 3-8     district proportionately to the extent a teacher does not meet the
 3-9     requirements under Subsection (d)(2) for the entire school year.  A
3-10     district that employs more certified master reading teachers than
3-11     the number of grants available under this section shall select the
3-12     certified master reading teachers to whom to pay stipends based on
3-13     a policy adopted by the board of trustees of the district, except
3-14     that a district shall pay a stipend for two additional consecutive
3-15     school years to a teacher the district has selected for and paid a
3-16     stipend for a school year, who remains eligible for a stipend under
3-17     Subsection (d)(2), and for whom the district receives a grant under
3-18     this section for those years.  A decision of the district under
3-19     this subsection is final and may not be appealed.  The district may
3-20     not apportion among teachers a stipend paid for with a grant the
3-21     district receives under this section.  The district may use local
3-22     money to pay additional stipends in amounts determined by the
3-23     district.
3-24           (h)  A grant a school district receives under this section is
3-25     in addition to any funding the district receives under Chapter 42.
3-26     The commissioner shall distribute funds under this section with the
3-27     Foundation School Program payment to which the district is entitled
 4-1     as soon as practicable after the end of the school year as
 4-2     determined by the commissioner.  A district to which Chapter 41
 4-3     applies is entitled to the grants paid under this section.  The
 4-4     commissioner shall determine the timing of the distribution of
 4-5     grants to a district that does not receive Foundation School
 4-6     Program payments.
 4-7           (i)  This section does not create a property right to a grant
 4-8     or stipend.  A school district is entitled to a grant to carry out
 4-9     the purposes of this section only to the extent the commissioner
4-10     makes the grant in accordance with this section and only to the
4-11     extent sufficient state funds are appropriated for those purposes.
4-12     If state funds are appropriated but are insufficient to fully fund
4-13     a grant, the commissioner shall reduce the grant paid to each
4-14     district and the district shall reduce the stipend the district
4-15     pays to each teacher under this section proportionately so that
4-16     each selected teacher receives the same amount of money.
4-17           (j)  A decision of the commissioner concerning the amount of
4-18     money to which a school district is entitled under this section is
4-19     final and may not be appealed.  Each district shall, in the manner
4-20     and at the time prescribed by the commissioner, provide to the
4-21     commissioner proof acceptable to the commissioner of the master
4-22     reading teacher certification of a teacher to whom the district is
4-23     paying a stipend under this section.
4-24           (k)  The commissioner may audit the expenditure of money
4-25     appropriated for purposes of this section.  A district's use of the
4-26     money appropriated for purposes of this section shall be verified
4-27     as part of the district audit under Section 44.008.
 5-1           (l)  A stipend a teacher receives under this section is not
 5-2     considered in determining whether the district is paying the
 5-3     teacher the minimum monthly salary under Section 21.402.
 5-4           (m)  The commissioner may adopt other rules as necessary to
 5-5     implement this section.
 5-6           SECTION 2.  Subchapter B, Chapter 21, Education Code, is
 5-7     amended by adding Section 21.0481 to read as follows:
 5-8           Sec. 21.0481.  MASTER READING TEACHER CERTIFICATION.  (a)  To
 5-9     ensure that there are teachers with special training to work with
5-10     other teachers and with students in order to improve student
5-11     reading performance, the board shall establish a master reading
5-12     teacher certificate.
5-13           (b)  The board shall issue a master reading teacher
5-14     certificate to each eligible person.
5-15           (c)  To be eligible for a master reading teacher certificate,
5-16     a person must:
5-17                 (1)  hold a reading specialist certificate issued under
5-18     this subchapter and satisfactorily complete a course of instruction
5-19     as prescribed under Subdivision (2)(B); or
5-20                 (2)  hold a teaching certificate issued under this
5-21     subchapter and:
5-22                       (A)  have at least three years of teaching
5-23     experience;
5-24                       (B)  satisfactorily complete a knowledge-based
5-25     and skills-based course of instruction on the science of teaching
5-26     children to read that includes training in:
5-27                             (i)  effective reading instruction
 6-1     techniques, including effective techniques for students whose
 6-2     primary language is a language other than English;
 6-3                             (ii)  identification of dyslexia and
 6-4     related reading disorders and effective reading instruction
 6-5     techniques for students with those disorders; and
 6-6                             (iii)  effective professional peer
 6-7     mentoring techniques;
 6-8                       (C)  perform satisfactorily on the master reading
 6-9     teacher certification examination prescribed by the board; and
6-10                       (D)  satisfy any other requirements prescribed by
6-11     the board.
6-12           SECTION 3.  Subchapter J, Chapter 21, Education Code, is
6-13     amended by adding Section 21.453 to read as follows:
6-14           Sec. 21.453.  STAFF DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT.  (a)  The staff
6-15     development account is an account in the general revenue fund.  The
6-16     account consists of gifts, grants, donations, appropriations for
6-17     the purpose of staff development under this subchapter, and any
6-18     other money transferred by law to the account.  Funds in the
6-19     account may be used only as provided by this section.
6-20           (b)  The commissioner may allocate funds from the account to
6-21     regional education service centers to provide staff development
6-22     resources to school districts that:
6-23                 (1)  are rated academically unacceptable;
6-24                 (2)  have one or more campuses rated as low-performing;
6-25     or
6-26                 (3)  are otherwise in need of assistance as indicated
6-27     by the academic performance of students, as determined by the
 7-1     commissioner.
 7-2           (c)  A school district that receives resources under this
 7-3     section must pay to the commissioner for deposit in the account an
 7-4     amount equal to one-half of the cost of the resources provided to
 7-5     the district.
 7-6           (d)  The commissioner may adopt rules governing the
 7-7     allocation and use of funds under this section.
 7-8           SECTION 4.  Section 39.075(c), Education Code, is amended to
 7-9     read as follows:
7-10           (c)  Based on the results of a special accreditation
7-11     investigation, the commissioner may lower the district's
7-12     accreditation rating and may take appropriate action under
7-13     Subchapter G.  Regardless of whether the commissioner lowers the
7-14     district's accreditation rating, the commissioner may take action
7-15     under Sections 39.131(a)(1) through (8) if the commissioner
7-16     determines that the action is necessary to improve any area of a
7-17     district's performance, including the district's financial
7-18     accounting practices.
7-19           SECTION 5.  Section 822.201(b), Government Code, as amended
7-20     by Chapters 330 and 1035, Acts of the 75th Legislature, Regular
7-21     Session, 1997, is amended to read as follows:
7-22           (b)  "Salary and wages" as used in Subsection (a) means:
7-23                 (1)  normal periodic payments of money for service the
7-24     right to which accrues on a regular basis in proportion to the
7-25     service performed;
7-26                 (2)  amounts by which the member's salary is reduced
7-27     under a salary reduction agreement authorized by Chapter 610;
 8-1                 (3)  amounts that would otherwise qualify as salary and
 8-2     wages under Subdivision (1) but are not received directly by the
 8-3     member pursuant to a good faith, voluntary written salary reduction
 8-4     agreement in order to finance payments to a deferred compensation
 8-5     or tax sheltered annuity program specifically authorized by state
 8-6     law or to finance benefit options under a cafeteria plan qualifying
 8-7     under Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C.
 8-8     Section 125), if:
 8-9                       (A)  the program or benefit options are made
8-10     available to all employees of the employer; and
8-11                       (B)  the benefit options in the cafeteria plan
8-12     are limited to one or more options that provide deferred
8-13     compensation, group health and disability insurance, group term
8-14     life insurance, dependent care assistance programs, or group legal
8-15     services plans; [and]
8-16                 (4)  performance pay awarded to an employee by a school
8-17     district as part of a total compensation plan approved by the board
8-18     of trustees of the district;[.]
8-19                 (5) [(4)]  the benefit replacement pay a person earns
8-20     under Subchapter H, Chapter 659, as added by Chapter 417, Acts of
8-21     the 74th Legislature, 1995, except as provided by Subsection (c);
8-22     and
8-23                 (6)  stipends paid to teachers in accordance with
8-24     Section 21.410, Education Code.
8-25           SECTION 6.  The State Board for Educator Certification shall
8-26     propose rules establishing requirements and prescribing an
8-27     examination for master reading teacher certification not later than
 9-1     January 1, 2001.
 9-2           SECTION 7.  This Act takes effect only if a specific
 9-3     appropriation for the implementation of this Act is provided in
 9-4     H.B. No. 1 (General Appropriations Act), Acts of the 76th
 9-5     Legislature, Regular Session, 1999.  If no specific appropriation
 9-6     is provided in H.B. No. 1, the General Appropriations Act, this Act
 9-7     has no effect.
 9-8           SECTION 8.  The importance of this legislation and the
 9-9     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an
9-10     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the
9-11     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several
9-12     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended,
9-13     and that this Act take effect and be in force from and after its
9-14     passage, and it is so enacted.
         _______________________________     _______________________________
             President of the Senate              Speaker of the House
               I certify that H.B. No. 2307 was passed by the House on May
         8, 1999, by the following vote:  Yeas 143, Nays 0, 2 present, not
         voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B.
         No. 2307 on May 22, 1999, by a non-record vote.
                                                 Chief Clerk of the House
               I certify that H.B. No. 2307 was passed by the Senate, with
         amendments, on May 20, 1999, by the following vote:  Yeas 30, Nays
                                                 Secretary of the Senate
         APPROVED:  _____________________