What's the Buzz? Tell me what's happening.

Blog submitted by Dr. Barry Langford.

 

Dear Panthers…. We have had quite an eventful beginning of the semester. I guess the biggest news locally is the announcement of Dr. Middleton’s retirement after 21 years as superintendent. Serving as superintendent that many years is unheard of in most cases. The average tenure of a superintendent in Texas is roughly 2 years. I for one am proud to have served as Principal with him.

The second big news is the announcement of a bond election. While I cannot tell you how to vote, I can encourage you to get out and vote. I can provide you with details such as a growing population and a dwindling state budget. I can tell you about the need to revitalize older buildings in the district and let you know that those funds would come from our district budget, rather than the bond funds. This would impact programs at Lopez.

The big news statewide is the proposed budget shortfall predicted by the State Comptroller. At this juncture, we are not even sure what next year’s budget looks like. The state legislature will not set anything in stone until March or April. The way things are projected right now, NEISD would have to cut nearly $86 million dollars from next year’s budget. Let me tell you what I know…..
This would mean a hiring freeze (includes not adding teachers for enrollment growth), elimination of the Retention Supplement, elimination of all stipends, elimination of extra contract days, furloughing all employees up to 10 days, reduce contract services, reduce central office staff (putting more burden on campus teachers and taking instructional time away), increasing K-4 student-teacher Ratio to 24:1, increase student-teacher ratio @ secondary (possibly ending Teaming at Middle School), Reducing Instructional Assistants, eliminate non-instructional (e.g., office & clinic) Assistants, eliminate employee travel & organization memberships along with other measures; e.g., reduce District contingency account, AARs, capital spending.
As drastic as all these sound, all of these cuts mean a savings of $70 million dollars. The district would still have to find $16 million in order to meet the shortfall presented by the state’s inability to fund public education. The natural order of things is that after personnel get cut, then we move to programs. How can we do this to our children?
Let me get on my soapbox a minute. Legislators, for years, have treated public education as a liability. Many have forgotten that it is because of public education that they are where they are. We as taxpayers and shareholders in this educational system need to speak up… now, and loudly. It is time to collectively clear our throats and say, “Excuse me, but I want a quality education for my child and I want you, as my representative, to own up to your responsibility and find a way to help pay for it.” Please do not make it easy for those in Austin to simply look the other way. Please use the provided list and write, call and email these ELECTED officials and let your voice be heard. Protect our children and save our schools….
If you have comments or concerns you would like to send to those elected officials who oversee the budget and school funding process, please contact the individuals below by letter or phone or simply click on the name to fill out an online email form:

Gov. Rick Perry
Office of the Governor


P.O. Box 12428


Austin, TX 78711


(800) 252-9600

 

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst


Capitol Station


P.O. Box 12068


Austin, TX 78711


(512) 463-0001

 

The Honorable Joe Straus


Speaker of the House


Room CAP 2W.13, Capitol


P.O. Box 2910 
Austin, TX 78768


(512) 463-1000

 

The Honorable Rob Eissler


Chairman, House Public Education Committee


Room E1.408, Capitol Extension


P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78701


(512) 463-0797

 

The Honorable Jim Pitts


Chairman, House Appropriations Committee


Room CAP 1W.02,

Capitol 
P.O. Box 2910 


Austin, TX 78768


(512) 463-0516

 

The Honorable Steve Ogden


Chairman, Senate Finance Committee


P.O. Box 12068


Capitol Station


Austin, Texas 78711


(512) 463-0105

 

The Honorable Florence Shapiro


Chair, Senate Education Committee


P.O. Box 12068


Capitol Station


Austin, Texas 78711


(512) 463-0108