Northside ISD prepares for drastic budget cuts

The Northside ISD Board of Trustees Tuesday night discussed the possibility of making drastic cuts to both this year's and next year's budget to prepare for what is expected to be a 5 to 10 percent decrease in funding from the state.
The Board will vote whether to make $14 million in cuts to this year's budget at its Feb. 22 meeting.

Also on the table are another $30 million in cuts to the 2011-12 budget that will be considered as the District develops next year's budget. 

The District is being forced to consider such significant cuts because the state Legislature is grappling with a $27 billion budget deficit for the next biennium. Funding for public education makes up about 44 percent of the state budget. 

The bulk of the $14 million in cuts from this year's budget comes from a 5 percent across-the-board cut to all departments and campuses and a reduction of staff through attrition. As of this week, the District has decreased staff by 192 positions by not filling positions left open by retiring or department employees.

So far, the District has eliminated the following positions: central office staff (including a Cabinet-level administrator), technology specialists, instructional specialists, instructional assistants, maintenance personnel, and bus drivers and assistants.

The Board will consider the following measures to cut an additional $30 million from next year's budget:
  • Increase the student-teacher ratio at all levels
  • Implement a salary freeze 
  • Eliminate 20 high school academic coach positions
  • Eliminate 15 guidance counselor positions
  • Eliminate 17 campus administrative positions
  • Reduce library assistant positions at all levels
  • Reduce "extra duty" days for athletic coaches, fine arts staff, etc.
"Is this going to have a major impact on instruction? Absolutely," Superintendent John Folks said. "We're trying to preserve the classroom teacher, and we're trying to preserve jobs, but these are drastic cuts. We are going to have to do more with fewer resources."

Just how much the District is going to have to cut won't be known until the state Legislature approves a budget, probably several months from now. However, the District's proposed cuts likely are a best-case scenario, and it's possible cuts could be even more drastic, Folks said.