Proposed HCDE budget includes plan to expand at-risk teens’ access to nationally recognized debate program

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June 13, 2017 by HCDE-Texas

A 2017-2018 budget plan presented to the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees on Tuesday, June 13, included funding for a debate program that would serve 300 low-income, at-risk high school students.

For the third consecutive year, the proposed budget also included a tax rate below the effective rate, at $.0051. If adopted at the board’s regular meeting in September, the tax rate would amount to an annual $10.20 investment for the average homeowner – a reduction of $0.20 from the previous year. Combined with grants, fees, and revenues from HCDE’s purchasing cooperative, the $114 million total budget funds four schools serving special needs students, school-based therapists, after-school programming, early childhood education, and adult education and workforce development in Harris County.

The proposed CASE Debates initiative would be administered by HCDE’s Cooperative for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids (CASE), which services 9,000 youth in greater Harris County. The program provides three seminars for youth and coaches, along with three debate tournaments utilizing the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL) model.

Currently only Houston Independent School District schools participate in the HUDL program. The HCDE proposal expands the program by identifying and serving at-risk teens from 20 high schools in five Harris County school districts.

“Debate sparks and nurtures critical thinking while also helping students improve communication skills,” said County School Superintendent James Colbert Jr. “These are initiatives which help continue to build partnerships across school districts in Harris County.”

The budget also includes funding for a public recovery high school to help students who have completed a substance abuse or dependency rehabilitation program. Several capital improvement projects are proposed to help provide and enhance facilities for adult learners and special populations students.

The HCDE Board of Trustees will take action on the proposed budget at its regular meeting on July 18.

Photo: HCDE Assistant Superintendent of Finance Jesus Amezcua presents 2017-2018 budget data to HCDE trustees at a budget workshop June 13.

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE helps school districts in the state’s largest county meet the needs of uniquely challenged learners, directly serving students at their schools or one of four HCDE-operated campuses across the county. Learn about these services and more at www.hcde-texas.org.

 

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