Teacher layoffs and important programs could be cut eventually. The Austin Independent School District leaders outlined their legislative agenda for state lawmakers. This occurred during an information session this past Monday. Moreover, the district faces steep financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teacher Layoffs and Important Programs May Get an Extension of Protection
For the first semester of the 2020-21 school year, Texas Education Agency has announced districts with declining attendance won’t face funding penalties. Stephanie Elizade, Austin ISD Superintendent, has called for an extension of protections for the entire year. In turn, to help prevent layoffs and cuts to important programs.
“We think we should be given the same dollars as if every student showed up, because there have been so many additional expenses,” Elizalde said.
Enrollment Needs to Improve
Larry Throm, Austin ISD’s chief business officer, warned in September that around 232 teachers and staff could be laid off if enrollment didn’t improve.
Teacher Layoffs: Education Should be Something to Value
“A lot of teachers are worried about layoffs,” said Mario Piña, an Austin ISD teacher. “As we look at the numbers, we look at financials. It doesn’t seem like education is something that we value.”
In 2019, the Texas Legislature got praise for passing a historic public education funding measure, House Bill 3. But it was connecting to a budget surplus during a good economic time. This has since evaporated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said lawmakers will face a $4.6 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming legislative session.
Sustaintable Revenue Streams
“We did not put any sustainable revenue streams in place to keep the promise that we made to kids and that we made to teachers,” said state Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock). “We need to look where we can find additional revenue to ensure the investment is continued over the long term.”
Enrollment-Based Funding is Key
“A lot of teachers worry about layoffs,” said Mario Piña, an Austin ISD teacher. “As we look at the numbers, we look at financials. It doesn’t seem like education is something that we value.”
Austin ISD leaders are looking to ask the state legislature to change how the state funds public education. Enrollment-based funding, they say, would be have more stability than attendance-based funding.
“There are a lot of merits to moving from one to another,” said Monty Exter, a lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators. “That is coming to be a longer-term conversation, but now it is good of a time as any to be having it.”