Houston ISD superintendent bracing for cuts as budget falls hundreds of millions short

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza is blunt.

"We're broke," Carranza told Eyewitness News during an interview this afternoon. "There's no other way to say it. "

The district will face an estimated $205 million to $208 million shortfall next year. That is nearly 10 percent of HISD's annual $2.1 billion budget.

According to Carranza, schools next year will feel the impact brought on by the state funding system. So-called "rich" districts are required to return part of their property tax revenue to the state for distribution to "poorer" districts. The system also will require lowered property values and smaller enrollment, which is a byproduct of Hurricane Harvey.

"School next year will look different," Carranza said. "Because you cannot cut $200-plus million from a budget and not affect what schools will look like."

He says there are tough decisions to make while trying to keep classrooms unaffected. But those classes could have more students, along with changed bus routes and disappearance of some educational extras. There is no choice, he insists.

"One thing people have to understand is that there is no magic pot of money that's sitting out there that we're going to be saved," Carranza said. "We're not going to be saved. So we have to be very specific, strategic, and transparent about where we are investing our dollars."

Carranza joined HISD in August 2016. Before coming to Houston, Carranza was superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District for four years.

Carranza said as to the specifics of the coming cuts, they're working on them. It's their primary focus, but whatever they do, he said they want to affect the classrooms as little as possible.

FULL INTERVIEW: HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza addresses district's issues with Eyewitness News

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Richard Carranza full interview

UPDATE: Since airing this story, HISD says it anticipates a projected deficit reduction from $208 million to $115 million.
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