LBB Recommendations for TRS-CARE and Fund Balances

The Legislative Budget Board released its massive 466 page report entitled Texas State Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Report:  Selected Issues and Recommendations (GEER).  The report contains 49 analyses of state agency programs and 106 recommendations. 

The public education section of the report contains analyses and recommendations of five different TEA and TRS programs (the full report for public education is attached below):

1.  Ensure Solvency and Accountability of the Teacher Retirement System Retiree Insurance Fund

2.  Increase Fiscal Accountability and Transparency of School Districts’ General Fund Balances

3.  Trends in the Number and Salaries of Administrators in Texas Public Schools

4.  Overview of Funding and Accountability for Bilingual and English as a Second Language Programs in Texas Public Schools

5.  Overview of Texas Education Agency’s Project Share Online Resources

Ensure Solvency and Accountability of the Teacher Retirement System Retiree Insurance Fund

An estimated $727.2 million is needed for the TRS-Care program to remain solvent.  LBB recommends allocating this cost to maintain TRS-Care solvency as follows:  50% to an increase in the state contribution, 25% to an increase in retiree costs, and 12.5% to both active member and school district contributions.   This would mean an increase to the state contribution of 1.0% to 1.6%, an active member increase from 0.65% to 0.80%, and a school district contribution increase from 0.55% to 0.73%.  TRS would also have to take action to reduce its costs through a combination of retiree premium increases or plan design-changes. 

Increase Fiscal Accountability and Transparency of School Districts’ General Fund Balances

As of FY 2013, Texas school districts, according to the GEER analysis, reported a total of $13.7 billion in general fund balances.  Of that, $9.5 billion was classified as unassigned and was available for any legal expenditure.  Before the FY 2011, however, TEA eliminated the minimum balance requirement that school districts maintain at least two months of operating funds in their general fund balances and the disclosure of the intended use of any general fund balance. The GEER report recommends amending current statute to reinstate the requirement that school districts maintain a minimum general fund balance and require school districts to publicly report the intended used of general fund balance in excess of a certain percentage of operating expenditures.  The LBB report also recommends school boards adopt a general fund balance policy.   

Trends in the Number and Salaries of Administrators in Texas Public Schools

While there does not appear to be any recommendations in the discussion of the trends in the numbers and salaries of administrators in Texas public schools, the report points out that from the 2004-05 to the 2012-13 school year, the total number of public school administrators increased by an average of 1.9% annually versus the 1.2% annual increase to the total number of school employees during the same period. The report also points out that the salary of central office administrators increased by an annual average of 2.3% versus the 1.7% for campus-level administrators, 2.1% for teachers, and 1.9% for professional support staff. 

Overview of Funding and Accountability for Bilingual and English as a Second Language Programs in Texas Public Schools

The overview does no provide any recommendations, but it does provide a detailed analysis of the ESL program in Texas public schools. The report details that during the 2013-14 school year, schools reported 899,780 students as ESL learners. Of these 521,491 were enrolled in a bilingual program and 357,078 were enrolled in an ESL program.  The discussion in the report focuses on federal funds ($98.4 million) and state funds ($477.5 million) needed to support this program.

Overview of Texas Education Agency’s Project Share Online Resources

The analysis on Project Share in the GEER report detailed the continuing professional education credits needed for teachers to maintaining certification.  There are currently 2,010 professional development providers.  During 2014, over 167,000 educators took online continuing education courses through Project Share, which is managed by TEA.  Educators also use Project Share to assign students online supplemental lessons—123,699 students in 2014.  The LBB discussion focused on the structure and access to the program, and the overall cost of the program. 


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Posted By : Bob Popinski ~ 2/2/2015 1:24 PM
Related Categories: MCA Updates