HISD discusses measures to handle multi-million dollar budget crisis


by Courtney Zubowski / 11 News


Posted on January 22, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 23 at 12:25 PM

HOUSTON—HISD officials gathered feedback from the public Saturday on how the district should deal with a multi-million dollar budget crisis.

Officials with HISD told the crowd at the Hattie Mae Education Support Center, located in northwest Houston that changes are inevitable.

The school district is holding several meetings - dubbed Community Conversations - to address what could be between a $200 million and $348 million cut to the annual budget.

The state of Texas could cut public education spending by as much as $5 billion dollars. According to HISD, 15 to 20 percent of their annual budget comes from the state.

District officials, who want to make the maximum amount of cuts without devastating services, say the cuts will trickle down to the campuses.

While nothing has been made official, some parents say they fear class sizes could increase.

“I can’t fathom that,” said parent Suzanne Simpson, who has two children enrolled in HISD. “I really can’t, you know. One of the things I’ve heard is increasing grade sizes in the lower classes. I can’t see one kindergarten teacher having 26 kids.”

During the question and answer portion of the meeting, a middle school teacher was told summer school could be affected as well.

“When she said it was $10 million cut to $100,000, and that information is going to be coming out in the spring and it will look very different, that to me said we better gear up because things are going to look very different,” said Johnston Middle School teacher Connie Kahale.

The final Community Conversations focused on the budget are scheduled for Monday, January 24 at Kashmere High School and Bellaire High School, during which each campus will have two public meetings beginning at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The district must approve the budget by the end of June.