Here’s the view from Ross Avenue, HQ of the Dallas Independent School District, as of today:
A message from Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa
Today, Proposed Budget Version 3.0 was presented to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. This plan considers what a $110 million cut would mean to the district’s budget during the 2011-2012 school year.
From the outset, I want to be clear that we are under no impression at this time that the district will end up facing a $110 million cut. It may end up being larger than that. At the same time, there is a slight possibility that it could be less.
In any event, with only six weeks to go in the Texas legislative session, it is more apparent than ever that school districts throughout the state, including ours, are facing significant cuts because of the state’s budget shortfall. I have worked in public education in Texas for more than 30 years and have never seen anything like this.
The Texas House already has approved HB1, which would require cuts to our budget of anywhere from $130 to $170 million. It would also eliminate significant funding for prekindergarten; reading, math, and science initiatives; and teacher performance pay incentives.
The Senate has yet to vote on HB1, nor has it passed a Senate version, but we are hopeful that it will be an improvement over the current bill. The deficit is so large, however, that it is difficult to get too optimistic.
Proposed Budget Version 3.0 would still eliminate more than 2,400 positions from the district’s payroll. The only positive under this scenario is that, thanks to the 700 contract employees who took the early resignation incentive, the district would not have to further reduce the number of teachers currently employed. While that may be a relief to many, it means that those teachers who remain will be asked to do more.
For instance, under 3.0, the collaborative planning period during the school day for secondary teachers would be eliminated. Middle and high school class-size ratios would be set at 25-1.
The details of Proposed Budget Version 3.0 can be found on the special Web site created to update everyone on our budget: www.dallasisd.org/finoutlook. Bear in mind, however, that as soon as you have a chance to review this plan, our financial staff will have already begun preparing Proposed Budget Version 4.0.
I again want to thank all staff members for your patience throughout this process. I also want to thank those of you who have contacted your lawmakers about your concerns and, especially, to all those who have traveled to Austin to speak out in person. Every little bit helps. Please continue to make your feelings known to lawmakers as they reach the final stretch of their discussions.
When school begins next fall, we will have the same number of students in Dallas ISD, all of whom have dreams for the future. None of them will care about our budget; they will only care about how we are preparing them with the skills to be successful. I know that our dedicated staff will once again rise to the occasion, as it has done so many times before, to meet their needs.