Trolling the Commissioner’s Blog – For Great Ideas!

This time of year, we tend to get a lot of calls around the firm from clients dealing with employees in various states of certification.  We get questions about alt cert folks who keep failing or keep not taking their tests; we get questions about teachers who have been assigned outside of their respective areas of certification; and of course we get questions about those vacancies that schools just can’t find anyone to fill.  One solution to the perpetual hiring challenges public schools contend with is to grow your own – to incentivize current employees to obtain the education and certification necessary to fill those gaps.

TEA has heard the call on this issue as well, most prominently from the members of the Texas Rural Schools Task force, which was created to address the challenges unique to those districts, of which hiring is surely one.  According to the Commissioner’s April 30th post, the 2018-2019 Grow Your Own grant program “will be used to encourage high school students to consider teaching as a career, as well as paraprofessionals and/or teacher aides to pursue certification.”  The 2018-2019 Grow Your Own grant recipients will be using grant money to fund some exciting stuff:

  • 49 current teachers to receive master’s degrees in education to teach the Education and Training courses for dual credit;
  • 195 paraprofessionals to receive bachelor’s degrees and teacher certification to become fulltime teachers;
  • 24 teacher candidates to participate in a year-long clinical teaching placement; and
  • 59 high schools to start or grow education and training programs for students.

Districts do not have to rely on the new TEA grant program to start growing their own, however; assuming availability of funds, districts can develop “grow you own” programs locally. What might otherwise be considered an impermissible gift of public funds (generally prohibited by the Texas Constitution) is not prohibited where the primary basis for the expenditure is to serve the public purpose of the school district, where the district retains sufficient controls to ensure the expenditure serves that purpose, and where the district receives the intended benefit of the expenditure.  A district hoping to initiate a grow your own program should start with careful planning to clearly establish program parameters and mechanics that will provide the necessary controls and ensure a return benefit.  With a clear and detailed plan in place, the school board can approve the program and make those necessary findings to establish their stewardship of public funds.

Districts looking for more information on the new TEA grant can find it here:


 Tomorrow: The Notorious RBG