Monday, January 31, 2011

Tough, But Necessary Budget Vote for School Districts Around the Country

In what is becoming common place around school districts all over the country but especially in the states of California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Texas--- the Austin Independent School District is struggling with a number of unique factors which all contribute to the need to reduce their operating budget in FY12 by over $100 million dollars (FY11 budget = $714 million). The cuts can potentially raise teacher/student ratios from 22 to 1 to 30 to 1 as well as close over a dozen neighborhood schools. A large part of the need for the cuts is the expected massive deficit to the State of Texas budget ($27 billion as a best guess estimate). -Dr. Petrosino

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted, after hours of public input and discussion, to support Superintendent Carstarphen's proposed campus staffing formulas. The effect is that Austin ISD will employ approximately 500 fewer employees next school year. Lower anticipated property tax appraisals and greater expected state "Robin Hood" capture of local school tax funds mean a shortfall of potentially $90 - $130 million in Austin ISD's FY12 budget, against a base of $714 million for the FY11 budget.

Trustee action on the superintendent’s recommendation is the first of what will be several difficult votes in the coming months. The Chamber supports and thanks the Superintendent and Board of Trustees in prioritizing the budget to accomplish the strategic plan. When strategic plan targets are accomplished in 2015, 90% of AISD students will graduate, 77% will directly enroll in higher education and 70% will graduate ready to do college-level work.

The federal House Appropriations Committee has said that public education in Texas is facing as much as $10 billion in budget cuts for the upcoming two-year spending period. For AISD, the district is facing budget cuts from $94.4 to $113.8 million for one school year.

Austin Independent School District, an urban public school district with an annual budget of 12,000 employees, and 86,000 pre-K-12 students in 120 schools.

Picture: Austin Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Meria Carstarphen. See her biography by clicking HERE