North Texas ISDs Respond To Education Cuts In House Budget

By Sharrie Williams, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas House passed its version of the budget Sunday, slashing myriad public services in a showing that cut $23 billion from current spending levels.

As expected, the $164.5 billion budget includes cuts to Medicaid, highways and prisons. Public schools took a big hit, as well: The House decided to underfund public education by $8 billion compared to the current budget.

“It’s the worst case scenario,” Dallas Independent School District History teacher David Lee said in response to the plan. “Which is going to leave us without the resources and the tools we need.”

For the past 11 years, Lee said he’s poured everything into his students at Dallas ISD’s Townview Magnet Center High School. But with massive budget cuts looming, he said fear is beginning to set in among teachers.

“Teachers are discussing whether or not we’d be eligible for unemployment benefits. It’s a challenge when you’re worried about if you’re going to have a job next year and if you’re going to be able to feed your family,” Lee said.

DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the district’s projected cuts have worsened from $150 million to $172 million.

He said more employees could be at risk of losing their jobs.

“This is the first time in my career that public education has been cut. In the past we could always go with what we had last year we can’t go with what we had last year,” Hinojosa said.

Clint Bond, Fort Worth ISD spokesman, said in an email that the district is coming out better that its financial analysts expected. No district had hard numbers to work with, so all expectations were based on possibilities, officials said.

Fort Worth ISD initially projected a deficit of $80 million to $85 million. But under the House bill, that number decreased to $60 million to $61 million.

Bond said 454 teachers and other employees have accepted the retirement incentive and the district is now looking at cuts to programs.

Mike McSwain, chief financial officer for Cedar Hill ISD, said the House budget softens the blow a bit for his district. However, it still expects to lose 15 percent of its state funding.

The district needs to cut $6.5 million from next year’s budget, which means about 80 positions will be eliminated. Seventy-five will come from voluntary resignations, but the other five will be laid off.

The five layoffs include a coach, a fine arts instructor and three teachers. McSwain said they received a written notice two weeks ago.

Cedar Hill ISD called a special board meeting Monday night to vote on approving the 75 resignations and five terminations for next year.

“That was not pleasant,” McSwain said. “Our HR department handled it and it’s not good when you have to let anyone know that their job won’t be here next year.”

“I had a friend liken it to losing their arm at the shoulder or at the elbow,” he added. “Both are still painful. You’re still losing a part of your arm and its not good for our kids.”


One Comment

  1. D. Betts says:

    This is absolutely a political crime to cut schools like this with the government waste going on in Austin and the high salaries of the office personnel and superintendents, etc. of the districts. They NEVER cut anything about themselves, they always hurt the workers and the kids. The bosses always keep on living well.

  2. BIGD says:

    Why are we STILL trying to educate all of the illegal mexicans in this country????????????

    1. miguelina garcia says:

      Why can we give education to the childre of the immigrants? Their parents work hard in the U.S.A. They pick our fruits,vegetables, built our houses,bridgets, highways,schools, !!!!!!!! why can they have the right to go to school like any other child in america.? Their parents earn that right. O.K. Would it be better that they come to america to do nothing? All they want is to be able to provide for their family,just like we want to give to our family. food.shelter, clothes, education, a better future.WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT? M.G. TEXAS.

      1. wevertx says:

        I have no problem with using our tax dollars used to educate the children of immigrants. I do have a problem with using tax dollars for anything to do with ILLEGAL immigrants. It doesn’t matter that the parents work hard doing all the work as stated. If they are not here legally (parents or children) they should not be getting the benefits of those that are here legally and our citizen children and adults.

  3. FedUpTxn says:

    I’m with BIGD. If we cracked down on illegal immigration, this budget crisis wouldn’t exist! California is now bankrupt because of it. Texas isn’t far behind.

  4. Sherry L. Sells says:

    Why should we allow schools to have the funds they need, if they do not uphold American Disabilities Act, Individuals Disability Education Act, TEA and other federal government acts that are there to take care of our special education students. My ten year old son is being left behind in a system that has the no child left behind act in FWISD. They refuse to follow his Individual Education Plan because they claim they do not have the funds, or resources. He is three years behind in reading but does not qualify for summer school help. His ARD they developed states on 2/24/11 he should be tested for dyslexia and auditory processing order, after I fought with the entire school district for six weeks they finally submitted the paperwork last Friday. He is suppose to be taught on a second grade level but it requires too much of the teacher. In fact, his reading teacher told me she did not sign on for a special education teacher, she signed up as an general education teacher. They hide under I am perfect and need funding but are not in it for the children just a paycheck.

  5. Greg says:

    Enact an 10 percent teacher pay cut. Budget problem solved.

  6. crasster says:

    So basically in this housing crisis, DISD thinks that good high taxes for their budgets will improve things. LOL.

    The more taxes people have to pay, the more burden on the people. The less homes are desired.

    Believe me I’ve had cuts too. My home lost $15k in value last year. That’s a big hit and directly off my equity. 5 foreclosures in 3 streets in an upper middle class area.

    yeah there is a crisis. The school districts are the results of a housing crisis, not the results of people in Austin. Austin should be cutting budgets. We are all hurting right now.

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