HISD budget includes more cash for literacy

One of the highlights of the Houston Independent School District’s recently passed 2014-215 budget is a renewed focus on reading instruction.

Much public attention on the $1.74 billion plan has focused on the district’s decision to standardize funding for magnet schools based on the type and level of the school.

However, the most innovative instructional part of the budget is a $1.3 million allocation for professional development for principals and teachers to implement the Teach Like a Champion program  to the district’s reading instruction. The money comes on top of an additional $8.5 million the Board of Education voted for last month to invest in grade-level libraries and new textbook purchases for K-3 English literacy.

The money represents HISD’s recent focus on literacy initiatives developed in part due to ongoing problems with reading levels among graduated students, flat reading scores on the NAEP test and STAAR tests.

The program will be undertaken in conjunction with efforts from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Literacy.

In other notable areas, the district also fully restored nominal funding levels to 2010-2011 levels before the state legislature imposed large cuts in the state’s share. The district’s increase of $86 per student would increase funding levels of a typical elementary school (about 1,000 students) by $86,000 a year and a large high school (about 3,000 students) by about $258,000 a year. The amounts will not be enough to drastically expand instructional staff, but will be high enough to fund a variety of small improvements to instructional programming and other activities.

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