10 teachers terminated by RISD
by Jack Gaskins, Refugio ISD
Apr 25, 2011 | 4153 views | 11 11 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The immense budget hole facing state lawmakers today is a structural deficit problem and not solely the result of a struggling economy.

State lawmakers would have us believe that the current budget crisis was unforeseen and a direct result of decreased sales tax revenues and symptomatic of a weak economy in general.

In reality the true cause of the current funding hole is the result of deliberate action that state lawmakers took back in 2006 which has now come back to haunt them. Factually, back in 2006 the Texas Legislature took specific action which created the structure responsible for the current enormous revenue shortfall.

During that year the Legislature mandated that all local school district property taxes be rolled back or “compressed” to no more than $1 per $100 of property valuation. Further, the Legislature also assured school districts and local taxpayers that revenue generated by the state’s business tax would make up the loss in local tax revenues at the newly required lower tax rate.

Unfortunately, since its inception, the legislative plan for financing schools through business taxes has not brought in the revenue that was predicted. In fact, back in 2006, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the former Texas state comptroller, warned Gov. Rick Perry that the plan was flawed and that he and the legislators were writing “the largest hot check in Texas history.”

She went on to predict that within five years the finance plan would be billions of dollars short of the needed revenue to fund our public schools. Sadly, now five years later, we see that the former comptroller was accurate in her predictions.

The 2006 Legislature set up a structure for financing our public schools that was flawed from the start as it never had an ample revenue stream backing it.

Today, April 2011, Refugio ISD, just like all the public schools in Texas, has to deal with the structural deficit issue purposefully created five years ago.

Last month I sat and listened to Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, as she spoke to a gathering of school superintendents and school board members. She warned the group that the “perfect storm” was headed for Texas’ public schools, referring to the deep cuts in funding that are being promised and that we as school and community leaders would be “making difficult, painful decisions and choices” over the coming months.

Indeed, Refugio ISD has recently made some of those painful and difficult decisions. With payroll costs making up some 66 percent of our annual operating budget, we were forced to reduce our workforce and find some savings within our payroll budget.

As of last week, the somber task of notifying 10 teachers and one administrator of the elimination of their positions has been completed. In addition, three non-teaching positions have been eliminated due to budget cuts.

Along with these payroll cuts, the district is also studying some $300,000 in other cost-cutting measures such as reducing benefit packages, reducing supply budgets and eliminating some programs. The district is looking at every aspect of its operations to see what cost-saving action can be implemented in preparation for a significant loss in state funding.

Finally, in order to make up some of the $1.5 million in revenue that we are predicted to lose each of the next two years, the RISD board is studying the feasibility of asking the voters of this school district to allow the district to maximize its taxable revenue by increasing property taxes to the $1.17 cap.

If the voters were to approve such action, RISD will net approximately $530,603 in additional revenue next year (based on current appraised values). With a proposed tax rate of $1.17, a home valued at $50,000 would see an increase of $65 in taxes for the year.

A home valued at $100,000 would see an increase of $130. Those whose taxable values are “frozen” due to being over the age of 65, a veteran, or a disabled community member would see an increase based upon their frozen taxable values.

To ask taxpayers to increase their tax obligation is certainly not something that we desire to do. However, it is a move that will garner desperately needed funds for the district during these times when the State of Texas is not fulfilling its obligations to fully fund its share of public education.

Another disturbing development in Austin at this time is some language within Senate Bill 12, recently approved by the Senate Education Committee. According to the newsletter Capitol Watch Alert published by the Texas Association of School Administrators, (April 13, 2011 issue) this bill includes some language which indicates that Texas lawmakers are considering forcing public schools to look at “options for managing the district’s available resources, including consideration of a tax rate increase and use of the district’s available fund balance.”

In short, the Legislature is contemplating doing less for our public schools while legally forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab.

These are certainly challenging times economically for the nation, for this great state, and for our community. Regardless of political party affiliation, we are being called upon to come together and find ways to cut costs, trim budgets and spending habits, and adequately fund our local schools.

Please contact me with any ideas you may have for reducing our budget and please pray for our state lawmakers and all the Texas families being affected by the budget crisis.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 27, 2011
avlara you are so right about hellfire.This story has nothing to do with his rantings about Obama.Just another hater and Obamas birth certificate was on t.v. this morning the long form The short form has been out for two years.Racist people will keep on hating.
April 27, 2011
HELLFIRE you must lead a pathetic miserable lonely life. You live on this sucky website don't you? You are probably the editor's nephew or son and this is just simply your life, typing away on a small town's newsapaper website thinkng Obama or anyone actually cares or reads what you say and that you are actually making sense. How long has Obama been president and you still are sore McCain/Palin are historu. I've only read a couple of your posts, but everyone here knows your type...pathetic excuse for a human being and a real life loser.
April 27, 2011
When are they going to start to reduce the amount of welfare people recieve? They need to look at that first. There are to many people getting a free ride!!! I was at a Stripes in Taft when a woman used her LoneStar card to buy junk food then turned around and handed the cahsier $10 bucks for two packs of cigarettes. And here Iam working hard and I can barely afford gas to get home because im supporting people like these!!! But lets go ahead and do away with education money so we can have more people with less education so they can live off the LoneStar card!!! STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!
April 26, 2011
Obama is a muslim, proven time and time again from his upbringing, admissions and actions of his behemoth jowled wife. Obama is garbage, period!!!!

April 26, 2011
How did you know who the response was for? Once a sissy always a sissy. I don't tone anything down, I just don't waste time on cowards like you!

April 26, 2011
I know what ever happened to adapt and overcome? All you see now is a bunch of cry baby adults crying about class size and less money. Grownups crying what are we gonna do. What a great example we set now days for our kids we show them how to cry and say oh no what are we gonna do. Where did yes we can go? We are raising our children to be candy butts and that without government we can't survive. One thing we sure do not teach our children anymore is how to take the bad with the good and overcome adversity instead of falling to our knees and crying about it.
April 26, 2011
Schools used to have different age groups in one class and they all learned to read and write. These kids built our nation into the #1 nation in the world. The 1960 hippie libs have taken over and now look at our education system. Its about time someone steps up and changes the education system back to what it should be. Libs tell us not to spank the kids and not to fail them because it hurts their self esteem. Do as other country's do and send the lazy problem students to work. Then educate the rest that want to learn and get rid of the teachers that don't do the job they are paid to do. Every school should not have to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payers dollars on a football team when it sends the schools into debt. Let the ticket sales pay for sporting events or don't have it. Indoor football practice fields become priority and then they fire 10 teachers. Then you guys blame it all on republicans.
April 26, 2011
Governor 2010 Refugio County

Rick Perry REP 1,091 61.91%

Bill White DEM 630 35.75%

Kathie Glass LIB 29 1.64%

Deb Shafto GRN 10 0.56%

Andy Barron W-I 2 0.11%


Race Total 1,762

I guess 1,091 voters of Refugio County support the layoff of teachers! Beesides, edumakashun aint that imprtant anyhow.
April 25, 2011
Well people wanted republicans in charge so look at the mess they created.Rick Perry would not listen to facts.Susan Combs where was she at besides getting the personal information out on teachers and retired teachers.It is a double whammy for teachers.