What if, Greg Abbott suggested, anyone could swiftly pinpoint whether local schools are overcrowded or underused?
While running for governor, Abbott said in his campaign’s 2013 collection of proposals that school districts and campuses should make public the capacity of each school and its enrollment so, Abbott said, “parents are more informed about their neighborhood schools, particularly when deciding whether or not to transfer their child.”
Also, Abbott wrote, voters would be better able to tell whether their district needed facilities. “As it stands today, voters might issue new bond debt with no way of knowing whether standing facilities would be sufficient,” Abbott said.
We checked progress on this promise for the PolitiFact Texas Abbott-O-Meter, finding that legislation to establish this mandate won a hearing in 2015 but no proposal made it into law.
Legislative records show that House Bill 1796 by Rep. Duane Bohac, R-Houston, called for the Texas Education Agency to maintain a website showing each of the state’s thousands of school campuses and their enrollment zones, the number of students who may attend and are attending as well as campus-specific indicators, including state-bestowed ratings.
In the April 2015 hearing on Bohac’s legislation before the House Public Education Committee, witnesses focused on other elements of the measure, which was pitched by Bohac as easing student transfers within and between districts in part by funding related transportation.
Bohac told committee members that the envisioned TEA website would deliver vital information to parents. “Markets work to the extent that consumers have accurate up-to-date information,” Bohac said.
After the hearing, the committee didn’t act to advance the proposal. Separately, records show, a companion measure, Senate Bill 1011, didn’t get a hearing.
Our search of legislative records didn’t reveal a similar proposal getting offered in the 2017 session.
We didn’t hear back from Abbott’s campaign about progress on this promise.
We mark this Abbott vow as a campaign Promise Broken.
Promise: Require school districts to list the capacity of each school compared with its enrollment.