School finance worries

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - 10:34am

We all know the state Legislature is facing a huge budget shortfall, but where should they cut? School districts across the state are worried that they are a prime target for the budget ax, and many say they have already cut enough. 

Texas teachers are looking at a tough couple of years coming up. District budgets have been steadily going down for the last few years, and it looks like there’s more to come… 

This at a time when the student population is growing by 70-thousand students a year. 40% of the state budget is spent on public schools, and survey’s show it’s one area voters consider sacrosanct. 

Teachers in Texas know that in many ways, the job is getting tougher. 

A recent survey showed that only 28% think the quality of teaching in their schools is getting better.
While 43% of teachers have Master’s degrees in this state, 25% of them have to take a second job to make ends meet. And, they spend almost $600 a year out of pocket for supplies for the classroom. 

“This is a state that ranks 33rd in average teacher salary and 38th on what we spend per pupil for instruction,” Says Clay Robison of the Texas State Teacher’s Association. 

“We must fund public education. We must fund higher education. We must fund our community colleges,” says Representative Leo Berman. “But we are not going to raise taxes.” But the legislature is looking at budget deficits that might be over $25-billion. 

“One of the simplest ways to deal with this is to have fewer teachers and larger classes. And when we do that, instruction suffers,” Robison says. 

“We’re going to try and prevent teacher layoffs. But we have another problem in this state and that is we have far too many administrators,” replied Berman. 

Robison said that if that’s the case, “Let’s hope local school boards are paying attention to where their resources are going.” 

Berman concluded, “Gosh it’s such a tough question to answer until we know what kind of shortfall we’re going to have.” 

One dilemma is that teacher contract offers go out in early spring and the final budget figures won’t be done until the end of the session… 

But 63% of Texans believe school funding should increase. Where we get the money is the issue.

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