Several Austin ISD schools may be closing. The district is facing a multi-million-dollar deficit is making budget cuts for the upcoming years.
District officials say this deficit is a combination of decreasing student enrollment and the massive amount of money the district has to give to the state. Right now they estimate 12 schools may be impacted by either closing their doors or combining with other campuses.
“We will be having more dialogue and community conversation around what are the strategies next year to realign budgets and address the deficit that we are facing in the school system,” said Dr. Paul Cruz the AISD superintendent. Right now the district is facing a multi-million-dollar deficit in their budget, estimated around 55 to 60 million, and cuts are needed to be made. “Some of the information here will change we're basing this on what we know today or what we've known for a few months but this is going to change based on new information,” said Dr. Cruz.
AISD is looking at all their schools and will be selecting 12 and either close their doors or combine them with other campuses. The district will be looking at each campus enrollment, the condition of the building, and transportation for the students in the area.
“It requires us to do a deep sort of analytical review and where we want to establish goals and where we want to balance out and it's something which could take a little bit more time,” said Nicole Conley Johnson the AISD chief of business and operations.
The district said they are facing this deficit due to two things.
Enrollment being down at about 6,000 students this year. And “Recapture” a state program where school districts like AISD give funds to help other school districts in the state. “This year under recapture will send 670 million dollars that equals keeping 40 cents to the dollar here,” said Dr. Cruz.
With the budget cuts AISD is expecting several positions to be impacted; anywhere from 150 to 200 for the next year. “That's not only teachers, that’s administrative staff clerical staff classified staff and teachers as well,” said Dr Fernando Medina the AISD chief human capital officer.
This doesn't mean people will be left without a job.
“We have confidence that we can shift our staff to where they are needed,” said Dr. Medina.
While the budget cuts are not final, the school district said they will be focusing on three major points moving forward. “One is about make sure all our schools are moving towards an exemplary level, a higher level of performance. Second is all students read on level by third grade and the third one is about paying teachers more so making sure we compensate teachers for the work that they do,” said Dr. Cruz. The budget is not final until June, during that time the school district will be talking to the schools and people for feedback.
With the legislative session just around the corner they also expect that to impact the budget as well.