Trying to Function with Millions Lost

Multi-billion dollar state budget cuts are having a domino effect on school districts across Texas. The Houston Independent School District, the state's largest, might be forced to trim as much as a fifth of its $1.6-billion dollar spending blueprint. Pat Hernandez has more.

Like other districts in Texas, the HISD is studying the effects of the state budget shortfall in education funding estimated at 9.8-billion dollars. Superintendent Dr Terry Grier huddled with members of the school board in the first of many budget workshops. Jason Spencer is with HISD.

"We've crunched the numbers to try to determine the impact the proposed cuts would have on HISD, and our math shows that we're looking at an annual loss in revenue of at least $200 million dollars, that could be as much as $340 some million dollars for HISD. Just to put that into some perspective for you, that represents 15 to 20 percent of our annual budget."

Spencer says the budget workshops are designed to weigh extensive cost-cutting measures.

"There's no way to hide these cuts to where it won't be felt in a classroom and in our schools, so we're gonna have to make very tough decisions over the next couple of months, if the legislature continues to head down this funding path."

Gayle Fallon: "Right now the statement we're getting from the legislature is education isn't important in Texas."

Gayle Fallon is president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. She says the state needs to take a serious look at funding education.

"This is just the House, the Senate is a little bit saner. We wanna see what their budget looks like, and then see what happens when some of the constituents of the House members start looking at the cuts in their school districts, because this is the future of Texas we're talking about gutting."

Cost-saving measures being considered include closing low-performing schools, increasing class sizes and furloughing employees other than teachers. It's estimated that upwards of a hundred thousand school jobs could be lost if state lawmakers end up reducing education funding as proposed. 

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...