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Smaller Districts Plan For Budget Cuts Amidst Uncertainty

April 11, 2011

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While no one knows the exact number, and Texas House and Senate projections differ on how much will be cut from the state education budget, educators across the state are planning for the number to be large. How large, they don't know. So they're planning for a variety of scenarios. As lawmakers propose across the board cuts that affect districts on an equal percentage basis, smaller districts, like Axtell and Valley Mills, are pushing for the cuts to be rated differently for their property-poor districts than for larger districts with a larger property tax base. Many experts say this is unlikely, but Valley Mills superintendent Larry Robinson suggests one idea that is shared by a Texas lawmaker.

His colleague at Axtell, superintendent Stanley Harris has similar sentiments as he faces budget planning amidst a wide array of questions. Larry Robinson also stresses that the major impact of the cuts won't be felt by his district until a year or two down the road. And as he expects that the final cuts will have a greater impact on his smaller district than the larger ones, he's asking his employees to start the belt-tightening now.

That's just one example. Harris, at Axtell ISD also has money in reserve, but thinking down the line, he foresees elective classes put at risk if the cuts are as deep as anticipated.

They'll deal with that uncertainty for weeks to come, as the bills voted on by the house and senate take shape. Their employees will live with that uncertainty too, as stories of lost jobs in districts including Waco dot the news. Larry Robinson sums up his hope and the hope of many other superintendents and school employees as they head down that path.

You can hear yesterday's story online at kwbu.org, with more coverage of the education budget in the weeks to come here on 103.3 FM. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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