Hundreds of Texas school districts coping with loss of funding

School districts facing major budget cuts

AUSTIN - While the school year is nearly over and summer is on the horizon, administrators in many districts aren't looking forward to the next few months. 

Just ask Jarrell Superintendent Bill Chapman. He and his school board have just a few months to figure out how his district will cope with a nearly $700,000 loss in state funding.

"Even with property growth and student growth, we face a 600-700 thousand dollar deficit for next year," Chapman explained.

The reason why? The "Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction," or ASATR, is expiring in September.

The program was created in 2006 following a state reduction in property taxes. To ensure school districts wouldn't lose funding, ASATR was put into place. In 2011, legislators decided to do away with the program by 2017-2018 school year.

"Is it a cliff?" Chapman asked. "Well it's dangling in front of us and we're gonna go off it so I guess that makes it a cliff. We now have to decide what to do to make sure our kids still get everything they need."

Unfortunately for the small district, $700,000 is not easy to replace.

"I can't cut gas, I can't cut electricity," Chapman said, "I gotta keep the buildings and supplies going. Salaries is the next area where we have some flexibility to some extent."

Chapman said removing teachers would be their worst option and added that to make up the money they'd likely have to remove 12 positions.

It's a situation other districts are facing as well. On Monday, Blanco ISD board members voted to cut one teaching position and accepted the resignation of 12 other teachers to make up for a $720,000 loss to ASATR.

Chapman said their hope is to avoid a similar situation, but he realized that their district will also have to take tough steps to balance their budget. 

While bills have been presented at the legislature to try and extend ASATR funding, none have gained traction yet, which is something Chapman hopes can change.

"The biggest thing is just working to have a voice to your legislators," he said. "To tell them that you want schools to be funded to produce great citizens of Texas."

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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