• House  Bill  4294  amends  the  Education  Code  to  require  each  school  district  and open-enrollment charter school to certify annually to the State Board of Education (SBOE) and the commissioner of education that, for each subject in the foundation curriculum and each grade level, the district provides each student with textbooks, electronic textbooks, or instructional materials that cover all elements of the essential knowledge and skills adopted by the SBOE for that subject and grade level.

    • The bill authorizes the state textbook fund to be used to purchase technological equipment necessary to support the use of electronic textbooks or instructional material included on the adopted list or any textbook or material approved by the SBOE.

    • The bill requires the commissioner to adopt a list of electronic textbooks and instructional material, including tools, models, and investigative materials designed for use in the foundation curriculum for science in kindergarten through grade five, and it authorizes a school district to select a textbook or material on that list to be funded by the state textbook fund. 

    • If a school district or open-enrollment charter school selects an electronic textbook or instructional material on the list, the bill requires the state to pay the district or school an amount equal to the cost of the electronic textbook or instructional material plus textbook credits as specified in the bill, times number of such textbooks or materials needed by the district or school.

    • The bill authorizes a school district or open-enrollment charter school that selects a subscription-based electronic textbook or instructional material on the conforming list or the adopted list to cancel the subscription and subscribe to a new electronic textbook or instructional material before the end of the state contract period if the district or school has used the textbook or material for at least one school year and the Texas Education Agency approves the change based on a written request by the district or school that specifies the reasons for the change.

    • House Bill 4294 requires the commissioner by rule to establish a computer lending pilot program to provide computers to participating public schools that make computers available for use by students and their parents. The bill requires the commissioner to establish administrative procedures, including procedures for distributing to a participating school any surplus or salvage data processing equipment available for distribution under the pilot program or computers donated or purchased for that purpose with funds from any source. A school is eligible to participate if 50 percent or more of its students are educationally disadvantaged and the school operates or agrees to operate a computer lending program that allows students and parents to borrow a computer; includes an option for students and parents to work toward owning a computer initially borrowed under the program, subject to any applicable restrictions on the computer’s disposition; provides computer training for students and parents; and operates outside regular school hours, including operation until at least 7 p.m. on at least three days each week. The bill requires the commissioner, not later than January 1 of each year, to submit a report to the legislature regarding the computer lending pilot program.

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