HISD budget cuts may affect classrooms

January 19, 2011 2:48:01 PM PST
We are learning more about how cuts to education may impact your child and schools in our area. Public hearings are underway in our area to talk to parents about state budget cuts.

Wednesday marked Day 2 of the public hearings. The whole purpose behind them, according to HISD, is to keep people informed on what can only be described, say authorities, as a crisis budget session.

It is the last place HISD wants to cut back. What happens inside the classroom is at the forefront of an epic battle among state lawmakers dealing with a budget deficit. How much money HISD will lose from the state is up in the air; estimates are from $50 million and upward.

"With what we've now seen with what the submissions were, the impacts do seem to be a little bit more than even what we anticipated," HISD trustee Greg Meyers said. "Meaning we're gonna have to really get down and diligently go through every single piece of the budget."

The numbers are grim. All HISD departments must submit zero based budgets with no new spending. The total current HISD budget is $1.6 billion. How much of that will be shaved depends on a statewide budget deficit of at least $11 billion. A newly released audit to HISD proposes cutting nearly half, 55 out of 113 magnet schools.

State grant money also helps to pay for ASPIRE award payments, bonus money teachers can qualify for based on performance. Pre-K funding is also on the chopping block, which came as a total surprise to one parent.

"Pre-K, I think that's important; I think it's important that kids get a head start; it gives them a foundation for socialization skills," parent Patrice Little said.

"You don't want to see anything cut?" we asked Little.

"No ma'am, no" she replied.

"I kind of think they have to find a better way of doing things, to figure out something better than cut the budget from the schools," parent Diane Campos said.

That's a statement with which HISD also agrees. Both parents and officials say they just don't want to see any cuts happen; however, reality suggests there will be some cuts, which is why HISD is trying to keep parents in the loops with public meetings regarding the budget crisis as it's going on.

People within HISD already are expecting the budget to be balanced, especially the school issues, to be resolved in a special session.

Visit Houstonisd.org to learn more.