Texas Budget Shortfall News
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Houston parents are heading back to Austin on March 30 to meet with legislators about impending cuts to public education. Our common message will be to minimize the impact on our children during the current budget crisis through the use of things like the Rainy Day Fund, while working to fix the structural budget problem in order to secure a long term solution that provides adequate funding for public education.
As you may have heard this week, the budget bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee this week calls for a $8 billion cut to public education and does not utilize any of the Rainy Day Fund for the next biennium. The Senate version, on the other hand, calls for cuts of $4 billion to public ed and it is expected to utilize some of the Rainy Day Fund. We need make sure the final bill more closely resembles the Senate committee version than the House version.
This will be a grassroots trip, initiated and organized by parents. As such, we will be carpooling and caravanning instead of riding sponsored charter buses. As with the last trip, no experience is required, and training will be provided. This will be an all-day trip - leaving at 7 a.m. and returning in the evening.
If you would like to participate: A new email addresswill collect rsvps at email@example.com. Please R.S.V.P. with your name, email, cell number, school(s), and address. It would ideal if you could also include the names of your state rep and state senator. (That information can be looked up at here).
Final details including where to meet to carpool, etc, will be sent early next week.
I have been hearing that the parent grassroots advocacy initiatives are making an impact with legislators, so it is imperative that we keep up our efforts to continue to build out collective voice at the state Capitol to show our support for the education of all Texas children.
Please feel free to share this with any parents or community members that would be interested in participating. It is especially beneficial to not only engage members of the Houston community, but to also reach out to our friends and family in other parts of Texas who have different legislators that we do here in Houston. Afterall, this affects ALL children in Texas.
In the meantime, especially if you cannot participate next week, here are some actions that you can take today:
1. Contact the governor's office, your state rep, and state senator and ask them to use the Rainy Day Fund* to minimize the impact of the current budget crisis on Texas children, and fix the structural budget problem in order to provide adequate long term funding for public education in Texas. Contact information can be found at the website below.
2. Contact the members of the following Legislative Committees and ask them to use the Rainy Day Fund to minimize the impact of the current budget crisis on Texas children, to take a "balanced" approach to this budget and not a "cuts only" approach, and to fix the structural budget problem in order to provide adequate long term funding for public education in Texas.
House Appropriations Committee
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III-Education
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Finance Subcommittee on Public Education
Contact information can be found here
3. Attend a Town Hall meeting on the education cuts:
10 a.m. on
April 2 at
April 9 at
4. Visit www.texasedfunding.com to find more ways to make your voice heard, find resources to engaging other parents and members of your community, etc.
(Please note, this is not a formal group, but rather a collaboration of individuals engaged on this issue sharing resources to help others that want to advocate for our public schools.)
Here are a few recent articles that will give you greater understanding of the Rainy Day Fund as well as the Senate and House finance bills.
Thursday, March 10, 2011 - Budget Vote This Week
During agenda review last night, Dr. Grier put forward agenda item G-4 that will cut the per pupil allocation for ever student by $275.00. in order to address part of the anticipated budget shortfall for next year. (Per pupil funding is state and local dollars that follow every child into their school and is used by principals to hire teachers, purchase materials, and pay staff) Timely notifcation about any reduction in per pupil funding will enable principals to plan for potential campus layoffs and notify any staff within the timeframe mandated by law. The per pupil funding allocation has long been sacred in the school district and is normally the last funding source to be reduced.
While parents remain committed to ensuring the per pupil funding remains whole for every child, we also understand....
the Board of Education (your trustee) has to make budget decisions with imperfect information
there are legal notification requirements for teachers and staff with a cut-off date scheduled for mid-April the state budget deficit could be larger or smaller and we believe that maximum dollars must flow into the classrooms for the benefit of all children in every single classroom across the entire school district.
As a result, we would like parents to consider emailing your trustee to request that if the Board votes on a PUA reduction, that trustees also add an amendment to agenda item G4 that will spell out how HISD will restore the PUA as soon as the state budget is finalized (by September) or when the state budget numbers are passed.
This means that we are asking the board to fully restore the PUA to 2010-2011 levels using the tools at their disposal thus keeping student funding whole. This could ultimately mean tapping the rainy day fund, additional central office budget cuts, program cuts, changes to the homestead exemption or tax increase - whatever the board agrees to at a future time.
We ask parents to consider emailing or calling your trustees to request that they view any PUA reduction as a temporary reduction that also includes plans as to when and how to restore full funding to the classrooms - like a promissory note.