NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - State legislators have a short break from Austin before returning to a special session in July.
However, there's no rest for school administrators. Many are preparing for round two to save state funding that will go away in September.
East Texas News spoke to State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, about the role he'll play in keeping school finance a live issue during the special session.
When legislators return to Austin July 18, the Sunset Bill is the first order of business. It is Travis Clardy expects will be resolved in short order.
"We could do that very quickly," Clardy said. "If that's not done in a day, I'd be surprised."
It will leave time to address 19 issues on the agenda. Cushing and other small school districts which are losing designated state funding want school finance to be next in line.
"That is my fervent belief, hope and prayer," Clardy said. "I'm already talking to some of my colleagues that that's what we need to push."
Clardy knows six out of 20 school districts within his jurisdiction haven't seen property values increase enough to offset the phased-out state funding.
"There's been a disproportionate impact because of the change in the energy commodity prices," Clardy said. "And so some of our school districts got caught in a double whammy with the valuation issues."
Todd Staples, who is now president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, talked about indications the energy industry is picking up.
"Oil and gas production is prolific here in East Texas," Staples said. The Haynesville Shale, there's been some increase interest in natural gas production. "We're exporting liquefied natural gas all over the world today. We're exporting oil all over the world, so any increase that happens here in East Texas is certainly good for the entire region's economy."
The problem is natural gas prices are so low it's not enough to save struggling school districts. Clardy proposes to revisit the failed House Bill 21 that provides grants to struggling school
"We should have been tackling school finance more seriously and earlier in the session, and I hope we will do that in the special session," Clardy said.
The special session begins July 18.