North Texans Headed to Austin to Lobby for School Finance Reform

On Monday, PTAs from all over Texas plan to rally on the front steps of the state capital in Austin for education reform.

Families from several North Texas PTAs are boarding buses to make the trip with a particular focus on meeting with lawmakers about school finance reform. About 40 parents and students in Plano left about 5:45 a.m. and 80 parents left Frisco ISD.

"We want fair and equitable public education funding that is not totally driven on property taxes," said Melinda Samberson, President of the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs.

Samberson, who has three children in Frisco schools, said she supports the Texas PTA’s legislative priorities that include increased special education funding, literacy programs, increasing security in schools, strengthening anti-cyberbullying laws and developing student mental health programs.

But adds those school reforms also rely on meaningful school finance changes.

"It can’t be another band-aid, it needs to be a whole reform," said Samberson.

Monday, 140 parents, students and community members from Frisco plan to ride to Austin together to meet with lawmakers.

"We want our lawmakers to see we're engaged. We're ready to come and talk to them about things that we would hope they would change," said Samberson.

Plano ISD Council of PTAs President Kelley Thomas said families are especially concerned about how their property tax dollars are distributed.

"We're paying more and more and we're not seeing that direct impact on our own school district," Thomas said. "We definitely are concerned about that and its one of the motivating factors of getting down to Austin."

In Plano, at least 40 families from PTAs in the district plan to make the trip for rally day.

Thomas says she wants lawmakers to keep school finance reform front and center this legislative session instead of delaying reforms for future sessions.

"This time around, we've been encouraged by all of our local legislators that this session will be the school finance reform session. We're holding them to that," said Thomas.

"We've got to take a step in the right direction now or we're going to fall further and further behind," she added.

Samberson says PTA groups from other North Texas districts including Lewisville, Arlington, Richardson and Mansfield are also planning the trip.

Texas PTA said it expects at least 2,000 people to rally on Monday.

Courtney Gilmore contributed to this report.

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