The drought across Texas has lasted nearly 12 months, and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. In fact, La Niña, the intermittent Pacific Ocean phenomenon that caused the drought, is back and strengthening. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 88 percent of the state is considered to be in the worst drought stage.
School districts are dealing with the extreme weather by changing school procedures — and some have already had to take costly preventative measures or make expensive repairs. All of this happens as schools have already pared down their budgets, shed staff and streamlined operations to absorb the $4 billion in budget cuts enacted by lawmakers during this year’s legislative session.
Recently, a grass fire came within two miles of Northside Independent School District’s Langley Elementary School in San Antonio. Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesman for the school district, said Northside ISD has undertaken a major review of its crisis plan as a result of the fires.
“The most important issue for us is, how do we get kids out of schools that are immediately threatened?” Gonzalez said.
Houston ISD hasn’t been immune to the extreme weather either. Over the past couple months, the district’s Construction and Facility Services has received more than a dozen requests to evaluate school buildings for structural concerns, according to HISD spokesman Patrick Trahan. Some of the recommended repairs have been simple, such as cutting down nearby trees that absorb large amounts of moisture from the soil in order to reduce the chance of foundation movement.
“Others have been much more extreme,” Trahan said. “Some of the major foundation repairs cost up to $600,000.”
It’s all right. I’m sure that between bake sales and passing other costs on to parents, schools won’t have any trouble paying for any of this. They can just follow Rick Perry’s lead and learn how to do more with less.