Peter vs. Paul at AISD
The district -- like most across Texas -- is between a rock and a hard place. AISD's state-mandated increases for equity recapture payments ("Robin Hood") and teachers' health insurance have climbed more than $60 million, easily devouring the capped increase in the property tax rate. Among the draconian proposals Forgione abruptly put before the board last week: $1 million slashed from the dropout prevention program, about $1.6 million in reduced library book and computer acquisitions, as well as potential unspecified cuts in school staffing ratios and central administration costs. Any of these would mean setbacks in substantive educational areas, thereby undermining current attempts to improve AISD's state accountability rankings. Moreover, the dropout prevention program was legally mandated two years ago after AISD faced criminal indictment for fudging its dropout numbers. The trustees face a long, hot summer of number crunching -- and in a deficit budget biennium, any serious outside help from the Legislature remains very unlikely.