In The Classroom

Budget cuts to hit school district hard

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A situation is growing more desperate at our children's schools -- tens of millions of dollars in budget cuts are in store for one local school district where officials say they're already stretched to the limit.

It's a sacrifice school districts across the state of Texas are preparing for. But the impact will be especially painful at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.

What's happening in classrooms at Cy-Fair could be happening in classrooms statewide. One classroom at Cook Middle School already hovers at about 35 students. Any more, and officials say there'd be no place to put them. The Cypress-Fairbanks school district is experiencing now what other school districts are preparing for. Overcrowded classrooms are the new reality for the Cy-Fair school district and a source of worry for parents.

"I don't want my kids to fall through the cracks, and I don't want anybody else's kids either, because in Cy-Fair, we're a community, and it's all about all the kids , and I'm afraid that will happen," said parent Laura Backs.

Cy-Fair ISD is facing a $66 million to $100 million state deficit in funding. That's about nine percent of their $740 million budget for 106,000 students. Already strapped for cash, Cy Fair ISD since 2007 has eliminated 900 jobs, contributing to $72 million in budget cuts. Yet only a handful of teachers lost their jobs over the past four years, the cuts coming in staffing and administration. But with new budget cuts looming, the future is uncertain for teachers.

CFISD Superintendent Dr. David Anthony said, "We will have to make significant, difficult decisions and we will not be able to provide the services we have in the past."

That means the possibility of fewer teachers and larger classrooms district wide. But that's already happened at Cook Middle School where a smaller budget has meant cuts in staffing and elsewhere.

"We have cut back on supplies, teachers' supplies," said Cook Middle School Principal Sherma Duck. "Our teachers are very cognizant of the budget and the budget reduction, so they do not ask for things they may have had last year."

The resolution of the state budget and how it shakes out in Cy-Fair will likely happen without their superintendent, who's set to resign in June, the very day of the deadline of the school district's budget.

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