AUSTIN, Texas - Austin ISD is estimating losing $51 million dollars because of low enrollment. The district’s Chief Business Officer Larry Throm told the board Monday, $30 million could be saved by cutting the salaries of 232 teachers and staff.
“We don’t want to alarm anybody but these are facts and we will wait to see in another two weeks,” Throm said. “We are taking attendance daily to see if we can’t improve on these numbers.“
The district lost 5,119 students this year, children mostly in PreK and Kinder. Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said this is the age group that needs hands-on learning and is positive once campuses re-open with safety measures in place, students will return.
“I don’t see us getting to the point where we would be laying off hundreds of employees. That isn’t certainly not what any district wants to do but we have to just put the dollars out there,” Dr. Elizalde said. “I need everyone to see how really critical it is that our legislature hear us and that we need assistance from our state. With regard to how we fund schools in Texas.”
School districts across the state are experiencing a drop in enrollment as families opt for homeschooling and learning pods. Funding by the state is based on average daily attendance.
Round Rock ISD is reporting losing 2,500 students this year compared to last year. Leander ISD has lost 1,075, Manor ISD has lost 372 and Lake Travis ISD has lost 92.
Education Austin President Ken Zarifis said the state should be doing more. “Looking at the state, TEA is threatening to withhold dollars in a worldwide pandemic,” he said. “We believe we need to calculate dollars for districts differently than we did in the past.”
Even with potential salary cuts, AISD would still need to make up $21 million of the rest of the deficit. The district will have a better idea of what enrollment will look like in October.
“I want to continue to reemphasize that we will never stop trying to find a way to meet as many of the needs as we can,” said Dr, Elizalde. “Knowing that we also serve our students in the best possible way.”
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