Peter vs. Paul at AISD

The ink was barely dry on the school district's proposed budget when the shredders began humming. On June 4, AISD Supt. Pat Forgione issued a preliminary budget that somehow neglected to address the district's declared No. 1 priority: teacher and staff raises (with the singular exception of sizable increases for Forgione's chief aides, the five area superintendents). A few days later, the board of trustees glowered while Forgione justified the omission -- saying he was waiting on confirmed revenue estimates -- then suggested where some new cuts might come in order to find enough money for teacher raises. The teachers' union, Education Austin, has called for raises approaching 5%, while Forgione is currently looking for $7.6 million in cuts to allow a 2% increase.

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Michael King
Review: <i>You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey</i>
Review: You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
UT could learn a lot from these "crazy stories about racism"

April 13, 2021

SXSW Film Review: <i>Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America</i>
SXSW Film Review: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America
Jeffery Robinson's captivating lecture on America's shared legacy

March 24, 2021

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle