Thursday, January 27, 2011

With buget crisis, why is UISD paying consultants to speculate about shortfall?

Our classrooms are under seige and it ain't the Martians this time.
For the last couple of weeks, UISD has been talking about drastic budget cuts. They have implemented a flexible hiring freeze, devised plans to merge two schools, announced cut backs to the district's pre-kindergarten programs and other harsh measures. On top of all of this, UISD saw it fit to bring in some consultants to tell trustees what they already knew.  The only new thing heard from consulting expert Lynn Moak was that the shortfall might be a lot worse than anticipated. Whereas, UISD had projected a shortage of about 11 million dollars, Moak sees the district falling at least $31 million short.

Today's article by LMT reporter Nick Georgiou also reported that the consultants had some polling information to share with the trustees, although I don't see how being told that 70% of Texans believe education should not be cut is going to help. Following is part of Georgiou's story:

 Lynn Moak, a Texas public school finance expert, cited the polls and broke down the grim state financial outlook to United Independent School District trustees Wednesday night at a board budget workshop.

The title of his presentation was “The ‘What If … ’ Game Begins: School Finance in the 82nd Legislature.” This legislative session, lawmakers will have to fill a projected $27 billion budget shortfall for the 2012-13 biennium. In the initial draft budget filed by the House, public education would be cut by more than $11 billion. In the Senate version, it would be cut by about $10.5 billion. “Both bills represent starting points, not the end game,” Moak’s PowerPoint presentation states.

According to a report from his firm, Moak, Casey and Associates, UISD could face a $31 million to $51 million budget cut over the next two fiscal years.That’s about a 10 to 17 percent cut to UISD’s $300-million-plus budget.

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