Any parent with a child in public school is aware of the bad news flowing through the hallways about the state budget deficit and budget reductions that will impact every school district in Texas. Both Pflugerville and Round Rock ISD (where Wells Branch students attend) will be affected. Under current school finance law, Texas owes its public schools $10 billion more than the amount proposed in the current budget. However this money may not make it to the schools if the Legislature keeps it to help balance an expected $27 billion shortfall. Schools in Texas are financed primarily from property taxes and state funding. Districts won’t know for sure how big their shortfalls will be until the state budget passes.
So what is on the chopping block? Athletic, art, music and academic programs. Librarians may be replaced by library aides. Registered nurses (RN’s) may be replaced by LVN’s (Licensed Vocational Nurses). School counselor and gifted/talented programs may be cut. Student to teacher ratios will likely increase. Many staff positions may be eliminated.
The proposed legislative cuts to public education funding are unacceptable. We deserve a better public education system for our children and their future. So what can a concerned parent do?
Most important is to get informed about the issue. Read what is at stake for our kids and what budget cuts are planned. Get on your child’s school’s email list if you are not already. Start talking with teachers and Principals to get their input. Watch the news and read online to learn more about this issue.
Contact your congressional representatives. In Wells Branch, our State House Representative is Mark Strama, District 50, (512) 463-0821, (512) 463-1199 Fax, Mark.Strama@house.state.tx.us. An automated email is quick and easy, but a phone call may indicate more concern and be taken more seriously. Specifically ask your representative to:
- Make education a top priority.
- Use the $9.3 Billion Texas “Rainy Day” Fund to support schools.
- Sign the paperwork for $830 Million in federal aid for teachers.
- Fix school funding laws to be fair to all districts and to our growing student population (eliminate inequity of target revenue funding).
For a sample letter and additional contact info, please visit: http://savetxschools.org/contact-your-representatives/
Sign up for the Save Texas Schools (http://savetxschools.org/) email list to stay informed. This website is a great source of information and they planned the protest rally & march held at the State Capitol in Austin on March 12, 2011.
Attend your school’s community forum meetings. Most districts are holding meetings where parents are welcome to attend and voice their concerns. They are also open to hearing your feedback via emails and phone calls. Pflugerville ISD has an online parent survey open through March 25th. The more the districts hear from concerned parents and teachers, the more important they know we take this issue.
Below are links to the 2 Wells Branch public school districts. Both schools have their proposed budget reduction plans posted to their site:
Round Rock ISD
Help spread the word to other parents and those concerned about education in Texas. You can post links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, email messages, or write a blog. We all realize the economy is going through hard times, but education is a top priority.
Sources: Pflugerville ISD website, Community Impact, http://www.savetexasschools.org/, Austin American Statesman