Leaving the Children Behind

The House and Senate versions of the proposed state budget (House Bill 1) are currently under revision by a conference committee before a final version is put before the Legislature. In all, about $2 billion in education cuts are proposed -- mainly to health insurance for active and retired educators and to Texas Education Agency programs for school districts -- with variations in the House and Senate budgets. Some funds may be moved to education from other state programs (e.g. health and human services), but no proposals for new revenues are anticipated. Here are some of the major reductions under discussion.

Reductions to health insurance for teachers and school employees: $800 million

Increase in active employee contribution to retiree insurance: $180 million

Increase in premiums for retiree insurance: $133 million

Reduction to TEA textbook purchases: $350 million

Elimination of Technology Infrastructure Fund school/library grants: $241 million

Reduction in Career and Technology Allotment: $50 million

Reduction in Student Success Initiative: $30 million

Elimination of Texas Reading and Math Initiatives: $64 million*

Reduction in Ninth-Grade Basic Skills Initiative: $25 million to $35 million

Reduction of After-School Initiative: $12 million to $25 million

Elimination of Communities in Schools: $26 million*

Elimination of guidance counselors: $15 million

Reduction to Teen Parenting Program: $6 million to $10 million

*House version only -- Senate restores

Austin ISD

The AISD budget isn't finalized until August, but the administration and the board of trustees have agreed on reductions of $21.5 million in anticipation of a $51 million deficit. The remaining $29.5 million will come from AISD's reserve fund.

Major reductions include: eliminating 550 positions, including more than 400 campus-level jobs. Staff cuts include special-area teachers (art, music, and physical education), special-education staff, coaches, and custodians, and the elimination of the Account for Learning and Reading Recovery programs (both campus-based tutoring programs of at-risk students). They will be replaced by 72 reading specialists assigned by need and at an anticipated savings to the district of $6 million. (About half of the laid-off employees will be eligible for reassignment, and the district expects attrition to enable the rehiring of others.)

Should the Lege further reduce state support or property-tax revenues fall, AISD administration will propose additional cuts.

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