Friday, August 10, 2012

In recent years Texas public schools have had major budget cuts, resulting in cutting staff members, reducing bus services, school programs not properly being funded and even some schools shutting down , such as Veterans' Hill Elementary. Last year my high school cut a lot of the staff, and hired 1/3 of them back, yet a number of them were gone due to budget cuts. Also the classroom sizes increased to about 35-40 kids in a classroom, from the previous 25-30. If Texas used some of the Rainy Day Fund to fund schools, all these changes the school makes will not occur and the education quality will increase as well. The state is an economic re balancing issue, but we can fix that without messing with the education funds.

Currently school districts get money from local property tax, but we can see through changes this is not sufficient enough in some places. Schools are doing these changes to save money, because they are not being funded enough. If the state used the Rainy Day Fund (Not sure how much, but enough to help education) we would not have to make all of these cuts, to save little amounts of money such as a Forth Worth school district cut $1.5 million by cutting buses for kids who lived 2 miles radius of the school, the superintendent said  “It’s buses or teachers, and we’re choosing teachers.” If the budget was used they would not have to choose between these two things. This not only affects students, but teachers as well.

In order to save money schools might let some teachers go, and this can be devastating. According to this article about 100,000 of the states 330,000 will not return this fall. It isn't what the school wants to do it is what the school has to do. This accommodates 3.8% of people statewide who lost their jobs this school year. This would literally raise the unemployment rate 3.8%, from  6.9% to 10.7%. This would mean Texas would have their unemployment rate 2.5% more then the national average of 8.2%. 

Once theses factors are covered by the state the schools can focus on the educational quality of their students rather than these harsh choices. Maybe this could then raise the state's rating in public education? Maybe we are focusing too much on other issues about schools rather than the education? Maybe we should use the Rainy Day Fund to fund schools?

1 comment:

  1. If the fish aren't biting, try different bait.

    That's my suggestion to the "education budget shortfall" drama that seems to plague Texans every summer. I read a post on my classmate's blog and felt compelled to comment on it. While it's a great post with some great information in it about a somewhat legitimate issue in Texas (our state definitely does face budget deficits and our current "system" isn't really working, so a solution is needed), it seems to perpetuate the ever popular "the sky is falling" tactic that our politicians have been relying on.

    Taking a closer look at things, it's important to note that the schools are receiving their funding based on a formula - that is constantly changing. This "expected" budgetary need is based on "assumed" enrollment and attendance figures (which rarely are accurate) and herein lies the problem. If you're expecting $XXX,XXX for a specific number of students, and that number is a gross misrepresentation of actual enrollment, that's not an actual budget shortfall. It's a planning error, and I don't think this is being considered when everyone starts talking "budget cuts" are needed in school districts.

    My very first blog post was about this particular topic and it was interesting to learn that these same districts that are reporting record cuts, are also the ones buying multi-million dollar bus barns and Jumbotron screens for their stadiums. Or they're hiring superintendents with a salary of $185,000/year. With an "economic crisis" in full swing (according to many district officials and politicians) it would seem most logical to make those cuts (who needs a multi-million dollar Jumbotron to watch football?) before we start cutting our educators. These are the things the politicians don't like to talk about, though. It's much easier to drum up support for increased funding so that the districts can not only have their cake, but eat it while watch an awesome game of football on their brand new Jumbotron screen.

    My point is this: yes, there are cuts that are happening. Yes, there are districts that are forced to decide between "buses and teachers," but there are many, many more that AREN'T in this position and that's something that should be closely scrutinized before making this a statewide crisis.