Gov. Abbott announces plan for increased school funding

Gov. Abbott announces plan for increased school funding

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Governor Abbott started laying out his plan to solidify Texas's place as the most powerful state in the nation. 

He prioritized property tax reform, mental health care, disaster relief, school safety and school finance reform. 

"This session we must pay our teachers more," Abbott said. "We must provide incentives to put effective teachers in the schools where they are needed the most and we must create a pathway for the best teachers to earn a six figure salary."

Lauren Smith is one of the teachers who could benefit from a pay raise. She has been teaching the last five years. 

"I've always had a passion for reading, and so I knew if I could help other people read I could unlock potential in them the way that reading has unlocked potential for me," Smith said. "I just wanted to make a difference. I know a lot of teachers say that but I really do mean it."

Smith, who is also the president of the Lubbock Education Agency, said achieving that goal can be trying at times.

"You have to be very flexible and sometimes you have to be a problem solver on the spot. There are days where it's overwhelming but if you work at a good school then that helps a lot," she said.

That means working at a school that has the resources and funding available to succeed. 

"Only about 40 percent of third graders are actually at the third grade level by the time they finish the third grade," Abbott said, "and not surprisingly less than 40 percent of the students that took the ACT or SAT were actually prepared to go to college."

"If more money is put into schools then we're going to see higher growth in reading levels and things like that just because there's more, you know, we can buy more resources, more supplies, and teachers, I think morale goes a long way with teachers," Smith said. "If there were to be pay raises I would want it to be across the board for teachers and I think based on the funding a 5,000 dollar raise would go a long way in helping teachers," he said.

Smith's $5,000 raise has been proposed in the Texas Senate. The House's initial budget would pump billions more into school funding and give the districts flexibility on how to spend it. 

State Democrats said the Governor's plan does not go far enough. They called it disappointing, saying he did not propose expanding access to pre-K or lowering the cost of teacher's health care.

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