AS REPORTED IN THE LONGVIEW NEWS-JOURNAL:
There was a strong sense of fear and uncertainty Wednesday among East Texas school administrators as they began poring over details of a proposed Texas budget.
Among the proposals are cuts to arts education, pre-kindergarten programs and teacher incentive pay as legislators look for ways to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes.
“Seventy-five percent of our population doesn’t have a college degree,” Spring Hill Superintendent Wes Jones said. “Why do we continue to try and push everyone into that hole? Give students real job training and certifications that the majority will use and be productive and spending citizens. If education is a priority, which it should be, I can think of many other areas that should be targeted before education.”
Texas is facing a revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion, and Tuesday lawmakers got their first glimpse of a proposed budget that included a $5 billion cut from education below the funding base. One idea on the table is a $4 billion reduction to the Foundation School Fund that provides state money to schools based on their average daily attendance.
“We’re really unclear as to what the cuts will look like because of the way Foundation School money is funded right now,” said White Oak Superintendent Mike Gilbert. “The program is based on target revenue. With target revenue, some schools get more money and some get less.”
White Oak gets about $4,954 per student.
“We don’t know if there will be proportional cuts,” Gilbert said.
Kilgore Superintendent Jody Clements estimated his district could lose as much as $2 million in funding under targets suggested in the draft budget.
“We’re very concerned about this,” he said. “We’ve done a good job in Kilgore of conserving our fund balance the last couple of years because we felt this was coming. We’ll probably be able to weather the storm, but we’re going to continue to try to be more efficient in what we do.”
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