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Superintendents speak out against school funding cuts

More of this, please.

Speaking at a press conference during the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Midwinter Conference, superintendents and trustees urged the Legislature to use the Rainy Day Fund and search for new revenue through fees instead of the proposed $10 billion in cuts. They also asked the Legislature to fix the current school finance system, which Northside superintendent John Folks called one of the “most inequitable and inadequate” funding mechanisms in the country.

In remarks that could portend a new school finance lawsuit, school leaders reminded legislators that the Texas constitution mandates that the state provide a “free and adequate” education to all children, saying that “there’s no clause that says ‘if funds are available.'”

Folks, who serves as superintendent of the San Antonio district and president of TASA, said it was “totally irresponsible” for lawmakers to ask districts to make cuts when the legislature had created a structural deficit in 2006 when it compressed property tax rates, limiting the amount of money districts could raise locally. As his district faces what could be a 28.5 percent reduction in funding, he said there’s “no question” there will be layoffs — as many as 565 positions.

There’s that structural deficit again. How much are schools going to be asked to cut in 2013 when we have to deal with this then? Here’s what the budget would mean to Folks’ district:

His school district has cut or not filled 192 staff positions and is in the process of making 373 additional cuts. But that won’t be nearly enough to meet the state’s budget cuts.

It would take another 400 job cuts for his district to reach a 10 percent budget cut.

The state’s budget proposals would demand even more slashing at the local level, Folk said – about $97 million per year for Northside.

“I don’t know how we could operate. When you take almost $200 million out of an operating budget of $680 million, that’s a 28.5 percent cut,” Folks said.


“It’s that extra help that have allowed school districts all across Texas to raise student achievement and narrowing the gap. That’s going away,” Folks said. That’s one of my biggest fears. It’s going to hurt student achievement as we eliminate jobs, as we raise class size.”

If the proposed budget is not significantly changed, Northside has to cut nearly $100 million a year.

“At $50,000 a pop, that’s 2,000 teachers. We have 7,500 teachers at Northside. We can’t operate,” Folks said.

There’s the achievement question again. What are we going to do when test scores go down and the dropout rate increases? I don’t see the Republican leadership expressing any concern about that. Are they oblivious to it, or are they just hoping really hard that it won’t be quite that bad? The latter is my guess. It’s going to take another lawsuit to force the issue, but who knows how long we’ll refuse to do anything about it and how much damage that will cause until then.

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  1. […] Well, we have $15 billion less to spend than we did two years ago, and the entire Rainy Day Fund would only cover 60% of that. How do you expect us to get there from here, Bill? This is likely to have as much effect on the debate as the business community’s pitiably weak opposition to anti-immigration legislation has had. I have more faith in the school superintendents. […]

  2. Teach says:

    What will our legislators do when over 100,000 unemployed teachers flood the already strained job market and unemployment lines? How are schools going to meet the number of classes required for graduation for a state whose student population is growing by reducing the number of educators needed to educate these students? Throw in the new requirements mandated by the STAAR tests, and all I can see is disaster. Student safety, education, and futures will all be impacted negatively. Now we are really seeing how important our kids are to our government. Actions speak louder than words. Have our legislators cut their own budgets by 28%? Have they taken pay cuts or been forced to work more days for no pay? I’m interested to hear what they have to say if they go into special session this year. Who will pay for that?

  3. texaschick says:

    Hey Teach,

    I’ve been asking the same question for the last two years. I cannot believe that no one has petitioned/demanded that our elected and appointed officials “share the pain” as Cornyn said and lead by example. Tax Cuts from the top first. Unless I missed it, I don’t believe any of them at the state or federal level has done this–cut salaries, benefits; health insurance and pensions. Where is the outrage? Why are there no petitions demanding that they lead by example?

  4. Teach says:

    Don’t magicians trick people by distracting and deflecting attention away from the real action? Not to say our politicians canreally work any magic, but they are GREAT at moving our attention away from the real action. If they keep everyone up in arms about education, then nobody notices what they are really up to. And nobody reports it either. I can’t find any reports or information that holds our legislators accountable the way educators are. There are no numbers that show their attendance, expenditures, results of programs they supported, etc. There are no breakdowns by race, gender, socio-economic status, age, hair color (just kidding on that one!), etc. Of each of their fund raisers or meetings, and no comparisons of each and every one of them to each other searchable by county and district. They don’t get ratings from the state and the feds. I’d LOVE to see what their “Adequate Yearly Progress” report would say! Lol! No Candidate Left Behind!
    I’m sorry I’m being so sarcastic. I think I’m just frustrated as an educator to see this bus heading for the cliff and no one stopping it! We are either riding in the bus or being thrown under it–I can’t tell which, yet.