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Clock Ticking For Schools On State Budget

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News
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A woman takes a photo of the Texas Senate chamber during the 82nd Legislative session. (credit: Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

A woman takes a photo of the Texas Senate chamber during the 82nd Legislative session. (credit: Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – With five full days remaining in the legislative session, the financial crisis in the classroom may be going from bad to worse.

School districts across Texas have been laying off teachers and other employees as they prepare for the state to chop at least $4 Billion from their budgets.

But after a crucial bill to finance schools failed in the Texas house this week, there’s a new scenario that’s causing concern.

Under the scenario, the state would run out of money for schools in April 2013, four months before the end of the budget year.

The state would have to find $8 Billion.

It’s an issue outgoing Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa will still have to tackle before he leaves for Georgia at the end of next month.  Hinojosa says, “I think we’d be all right the first year – the 2nd year would be very drastic.”

He says it’s more likely now the legislature will have to meet in a special session this summer to figure it out.

The legislature must approve the budget by May 30.  If not, they will have to meet in special session this summer.

Governor Perry and Republican leaders are trying to prevent that, but they have also rejected using billions of dollars in the rainy day fund to pay for schools during the next two years.

The president of the Dallas AFT Alliance, Rena Honea, questions that.  “I think it’s absolutely crazy that we’re at this point. There is money available these legislators have not even thought about using.”

And some parents, like Tracy Willmon, don’t want the state to increase taxes.  He says, “It’s a lot of politics. The money’s there – shake enough trees – it’ll starting falling out of the trees at some point.”

The question many are asking is if that happens, will the money land in classrooms across the state?

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