Parents react to proposed HISD budget cuts

Garden Oaks Elementary could lose a few teachers if budget cuts are approved

March 10, 2011 7:53:31 PM PST
The Houston Independent School District board was slated to vote Thursday night on a new spending plan that could trim $60 million from the budget. District-wide, students and their parents were already preparing for the cuts.

All campuses in HISD can expect less money next year from the district. Parents at Garden Oaks Elementary have already done the math.

"We are at the maximum of student [to] teacher ratio in our classrooms at Garden Oaks," parent Tonya Knauth said. "We would lose three teachers at Garden Oaks and that would significantly impact our classrooms."

Cuts to campuses depends on the sizes of the schools. An average-sized school can expect $345,000 less in its budget. Actual cuts would be decided by the principals and could include cuts to support staff, equipment, special programs and even teachers.

"The last thing we want to affect is the quality of instruction, the general supplies, the books that it takes, the materials it takes to run the school," said Sam Sarabia, HISD's chief elementary schools officer.

But some parents remain skeptical.

"At our campus, [it could be] the library, computer, art. You know, at other campuses it could be language; it oculd be sports [that will lose money]," parent Shana Tatum said.

As a result, these parents are traveling Saturday to Austin to be part of a statewide rally of parents and teachers who oppose proposed state cuts in education. Knauth is bringing her children.

"I am. I want my children to know their rights as citizens include speaking up for what they want. I want them to feel what its like to be part of a group of people who are committed to a cause," she said.

In the meantime, 56 people signed up to talk at the HISD board meeting.If they all show up and they all talk, that is nearly two hours of people just talking in front of the board. It will be a long meeting with the board expected to make some important decisions.

Another decision being looked at by the board is closing and consolidating schools. We will bring you that report on Eyewitness News at 10pm.