TSTA: School cuts may worsen next year

The state’s budget cuts to the public schools will be bad enough during the upcoming school year, but they may be even worse during 2012-2013, TSTA Public Affairs Director Richard Kouri predicted Tuesday evening. Kouri discussed the impact of the cuts — $4 billion from school finance formulas and another $1.4 billion in education discretionary grants — during an interactive online Town Hall meeting with state Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin.

“The impact of these cuts is going to be much greater during the second year of the biennium,” at least for some school districts, Kouri said.

He said there were two reasons. One, some $833 million in emergency federal education money is saving many educators’ jobs for the upcoming school year. But that money will go away in 2012-2013. And, two, the Legislature’s distribution of the spending cuts will hit harder at some districts during the second year of the biennium.

Watson called the spending cuts “harsh.”

Kouri agreed, noting that this is the first time in more than 60 years that the Legislature has failed to fully fund school finance formulas and meet anticipated enrollment growth. An additional 180,000 children are expected to enroll in Texas’ public schools over the next two years.

Kouri disputed those who would claim that the Legislature funded school growth.

“They funded growth by sending them (schools) $4 billion less and then telling them to divide it by 180,000 new students,” he said.