Houston Schools Try to Deal with Budget Cuts (TX)
March 30, 2011
In an effort to balance the budget, school districts across Texas have begun sending out legally mandated notices of potential layoffs to teachers and staff. According to chron.com, the notifications are being sent out right now to meet the state law requirement that educators have at least a 45-day notice that they are not guaranteed a job next year. It gives districts the flexibility to reverse their personnel decisions in case their fiscal situation improves.
The Houston Independent School District was the first to act, sending notices to about 90 of their employees, in addition to the planned elimination of 277 central office positions. Since the school board has reduced the per-student allotment for the next year by $275, the district also plans to jettison some school programs and increase class sizes to offset the cuts.
Alisa Zapata-Farmer, the principal of Stevenson Middle School which is losing seven of its 77 teachers, has already announced that the remaining teacher s should be expecting 34-35 students per class. Additionally, she doesn’t expect very many special occasions like field trips next year: the budget for those has been cut by over 50%, from $39,000 to $15,000.
Unlike HISD which gives school principals the final say on budget decisions, the Magnolia Independent School district makes all staffing decisions centrally. Last week it sent out layoff notices to 115 employees, half of them beginning school teachers, in an effort to close a $12 million budget shortfall. According to the article, more employees should be expecting similar notices in the coming weeks.