Nightmare on ISD Street

A health insurance crisis facing employees of GrapevineColleyville ISD is nothing short of a nightmare. And although fingers may be pointing in a lot of different directions, the ultimate responsibility rests with the current leadership in Austin and its neglect of the public schools.

As reported by the Fort Worth StarTelegram, teachers and other workers in the North Texas district will see their health insurance premiums jump by as much as 20 percent next year. The new plan also will increase deductibles, double outofpocket maximums and – in the most widely used option – eliminate caps on prescription drugs.

In approving the plan, district trustees blamed an alltoofamiliar litany of declining revenues, rising costs and frozen state spending. And, the district’s financial plight will worsen (including the elimination of almost 1,000 staff positions next year) if local voters don’t approve raising the district’s maintenance tax rate from the current $1.04 per $100 valuation to $1.17 in an election tentatively scheduled for next June.

The bottom line is the public schools in Texas are significantly underfunded by the state, and they were even before the state spotted a looming $21 billion revenue shortfall. Gov. Rick Perry and the legislative leadership worsened the problem in 2006 by ordering reductions in school property taxes and then failing to fully repay school districts for the lost revenue.

If Perry is still in the governor’s office in January, it will be open season on school districts and educators because Perry, as he already has signaled, will insist that lawmakers bridge the revenue shortfall with budget cuts alone. And, the GrapevineColleyville nightmare will worsen – and spread.

Elections have consequences, folks.


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