HISD board approves $2 billion budget

- After months of anticipation and speculation about job and program cuts, HISD board members have finally approved a budget just days before the state deadline. The board unanimously approved the $2 billion budget for the 2018-2019 school year. So what will stay and what will go?

“We have about 2,000 teachers that retire every year.  So instead of new hires, the teachers that were being laid off had the opportunity to fill those spaces first,” says HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones. 

Collectively, HISD schools will receive about $34 million less this coming year compared to how much each campus was given last year for programs, which means some may have to go. 

”The outdoor education program is the one that first comes to my mind.  It was a great program where fifth graders got to go and spend four or five days at a camp,” explains Andy Dewey with the Houston Teachers Federation. 

Cutting out camps is saving the district a little more than $4.5 million.

HISD administration cut about 40 percent of its staff, saving nearly $45 million.  

”The superintendent did not fill her Chief of Staff position. She did not fill her Assistant Deputy Superintendent position,” adds Skillern-Jones.

Some bus drivers were also let go. "The number of layoffs are far lower than what they first predicted.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 total.  We have been able to find a position for them in the district at some other school for every single one of them who wanted to stay,” says Dewey.  

Skillern-Jones says as a result of cutting some positions, principals are getting creative to continue to cover what kids need. ”For instance, as opposed to having tutorials that are paid for after school. There may be volunteer tutorials.  Some campuses will also share nurses and employees may have to take on two different jobs.

To balance the budget, the board had to take $18 million from the rainy day fund.  Next year, more of the same is expected because HISD will have to come up with an extra $50 million for the state recapture payment.

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