It already has been reported that more than 8,400 elementary classes in Texas have been affected by the record number of financial hardship waivers to the 221 studentteacher cap for K4. But how many children are in those overcrowded classrooms? The short answer is…a lot.
Crunching some numbers, TSTA’s teaching and learning specialist, Bryan Weatherford, has determined that as many as 88,639 K4 students in the state’s 10 largest school districts alone are in classes with more students than the limit set by state law. The number is about 22 percent of the total K4 enrollment in those 10 districts, and it is based on the number of elementary campuses and grades covered by waivers in each district.
Leading the overcrowded pack is Houston ISD, the state’s largest district, with as many as 47,413 elementary students (57 percent of the district’s total K4 enrollment) impacted. In second place is San Antonio’s Northside ISD, a rapidly growing district, with as many as 18,595 elementary students in overcrowded classes. That is about half (49.7 percent) of the district’s total K4 enrollment.
Here are the other potential waiver impacts among the 10 biggest districts:
Dallas ISD – 5,517 K4 students (8.3 percent of total)
CypressFairbanks ISD – 11,346 (28.2 percent)
Austin ISD – 1,294 (3.5 percent)
North East ISD (San Antonio) – 4,034 (16.09 percent)
El Paso ISD – 440 (1.9 percent)
Only three of the largest districts – Fort Worth, Arlington and Fort Bend – had no waivers reported – at least so far. But can they hold out when the second round of budget cuts kicks in next year? And, how much higher will the waiver numbers grow in other districts?
There still is time to put a lid on these waivers and stop the budget bleeding in the public schools. That is why TSTA is demanding that Governor Perry call the Legislature into special session to appropriate $2.5 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to stop the cuts now. The money is there, and it won’t require a tax increase.
The governor and the legislative majority pretended last year that the $5.4 billion in public education cuts wouldn’t hurt the classroom, even as they left more than $7 billion of taxpayers’ money unspent in the Rainy Day Fund. Their argument didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now. The budget cuts are swelling classrooms and eroding the learning environment for many thousands of Texas children. If you haven’t signed TSTA’s petition, please click on this link and send it around: