Superintendent Urges Community to Voice Concerns to Legislators about Education Funding
April 6, 2011
In a report to the Plano ISD Board of Trustees this week, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto provided a legislative update, stating that the position taken by the House of Representatives is "disheartening."
“Since education is 44 percent of the state budget, the public school systems are being asked to shoulder the burden of the cuts to state funding," said Dr. Otto. "There is a significant difference right now between the House and Senate with regard to what their plans are to fund education – a significant difference.”
Plano ISD will lose a generation of students who are under-funded because the state legislature couldn’t put together a tax plan to generate enough funds to pay for its most precious resource, and that's our students.
The community is urged to join Plano ISD in the effort to communicate with legislators that they need to think very hard before they adopt a budget – to make sure they’ve done everything they can to squeeze every dollar out of this state, including the Rainy Day Fund, to make sure it goes to kids.
Dr. Otto explained that the Senate’s education funding plan is a “best case” scenario, calling for cuts of $2 billion in funds for education per year for the two years of the next biennium. In that case, Plano ISD would lose around $35 million over the biennium.
The House plan is “our worst nightmare,” Dr. Otto said. Its appropriation plan, passed last weekend, proposes $10 billion be taken out of education. If this plan passes, Plano ISD would lose approximately $60 to $65 million over the biennium.
"It’s disheartening to see that position taken right now by the House," said Dr. Otto. "But the Senate does use the Rainy Day Fund and it also calls for some additional funds which have yet to be determined or identified. And, the Senate has time to prove that its plan is the best plan and can be implemented."
With about 50 days left in this legislative session, legislators still have to tackle some major pieces of legislation in addition to education funding, including redistricting. Other education bills on the table change the new accountability system that school districts will migrate into beginning this year and over the next several years.
The change from the TAKS to STAAR test and end-of-course tests at the high school level are to be determined by the state legislature. Both the House and the Senate have different versions of those issues that they have to come together on. Their decision will dictate how Plano ISD works with teachers and students in the classrooms, depending upon which system is adopted and what the transition plan would look like.
Plano ISD will pass a budget in June which, by law, will begin on July 1. The school district has reduced costs which have been very painful to all employees, administration and the school board.
Even in light of deep budget cuts, Dr. Otto reminded trustees that Plano ISD has prided itself on doing one thing very, very well, and that is ensuring that all students are college ready.
Although the district has achieved great success for a very long time, the district realizes that some students would like a different educational program that’s project-based. If Plano ISD follows through on its plan to open an academy, students with different abilities, but who all have the same goal in common, will have a different way to learn.
"That’s the kind of motivation, innovation and creativity that keeps a district vibrant," Dr. Otto emphasized. "Once we deny kids the best opportunities to learn, we can never give it back to them. So, we need for our community to be supportive of what we’re trying to do and ask that they advocate for as much money as we can to educate our kids."
This very much continues to be a pivotal time in public education for Plano ISD and the state of Texas. The timing for support in the community is critical.
Contact your state representatives today.
Financial Exigency &
Plano ISD braces for significant staff and program reductions due to dramatic cuts in state funding. Follow school board reports.
Advocacy for Plano ISD
School Finance History
Collin County Days
Trustees and administrators met with legislators in Austin and testified before the Senate Education Committee.
“We’ll lose a generation of kids who are under-funded because we couldn’t put together a tax plan to generate enough funds to pay for our most precious resource, and that’s our students...Once we deny kids the best opportunity to learn, we can never give it back to them.”
~Dr. Doug Otto, Superintendent of Schools