More layoffs possible for HISD workers

February 17, 2011 7:58:28 AM PST
Thousands of teachers in our area could soon be out of a job. Budget cuts could force massive layoffs and it's not just teachers' jobs on the line. As we learn new details of possible layoffs, teachers in our area are preparing to fight back.

They are fighting for their jobs. Some HISD bus drivers say they are worried about their future.

"I need the benefits. I need my job," said Barbara Lotts, HISD bus driver.

They spent the morning on a corner in Sunnyside to make their concerns pubic. HISD's proposed cuts to Pre-K and magnet programs could mean a cut in bus routes and worse.

"They're cutting and they're going to cut me out, and I won't have a job. And then when I don't have a job, my family will go lacking," said Charles Primes, HISD bus driver.

They're reacting to preliminary reports from central administration that as many as 1,900 employees, including teachers, could lose their jobs. The teachers' union has also noticed something else.

"We've never seen a year like this, where we are having a steady stream of people coming in, telling us that they're being told by their principals, 'We're sending you to file review,' which is the first step on termination," said Gayle Fallon, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

Fallon says normally about 1,000 teachers leave HISD each year because of retirement or other reasons. This year, that number could double.

HISD Board President Paula Harris met this week with the lieutenant governor to fight for funding. Right now, about $200 million or one-fifth of HISD's total budget is expected to be cut by the state. Harris says that would mean cuts in the classroom.

"If we get the budget deficit on the low end, just $200 million, just in average teacher wages, that equates to over 3,800 teachers," said Harris. "That is a reality. The low end is definitely a reality at this point right now. If we don't have the money to pay them, it's going to be our new reality."

That's a reality no one at HISD wants to see. Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier is expected to reveal actual numbers at his state of the schools address.