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Summary: Under current law, the boards of trustees of two or more school districts can consider and approve a plan for their school districts consolidate. If approved, the consolidation plan goes on the ballot for the voters to determine final approval. Howver, before the the ballot question is voted on, anyone can submit a seperate petition petition to the board of trustees requesting of any of the school districts involved to detach and annex a school district rather than consolidate. According to the Texas Education Code (TEC) Chapter 13, Subchapter B, the petition requires two components:
(1) be signed by a majority of
(A) the registered voters residing in the territory to be detached and annexed, if the territory has residents; or
(B) the surface owners of taxable property in the territory to be detached and annexed, if the territory does not have residents; and
(2) give the metes and bounds of the territory to be detached and annexed.
Once a petition is submitted, the board of trustees are obligated to review the petition as stated in TEC Chapter 13, Subchapter B: "Each board of trustees to which a petition is required to be presented must conduct a hearing and adopt a resolution as provided by this section for the annexation to be effective."
HB 2016 seeks to change the current process process by preventing a school district that has voted to consolidate from reviewing a petition to annex or detach until after the public has voted on the consolidation plan.
Analysis: Currently a school district that is party to a consolidation plan that has been approved by the respective boards but is still awaiting a vote at the ballot box can negotiate a seperate annexation or detachment plan with a different school district. This in effect undermines the consolidation question on the ballot because it changes the nature of the district voters think they are voting to consolidate. HB 2016 provides government transparency by allowing the voters to decide on the consolidation measure at the time of an election. A petition to annex or detatch during the interim betwen board approval and the final say by the voters may cause confusion and administrative chaos, potentially making the consolidation measure, which the voters expect to be on the ballot, obsolete. Furthermore, the boards of trustees still have the opportunity to hear a petition for detachment and annexation after the ballot question is resolved. We encourage the Legislature to vote for HB 2016.