How's Will the Superintendent Propose Gutting the Dallas ISD's Budget? Let's Watch!

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Shame the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees couldn't meet yesterday, when all the teachers and students were iced in and needed something to watch -- like, say, this afternoon's board briefing, during which trustees will get their first look at Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's proposed $260 million worth of cuts (or thereabouts) brought about by the state's $27-billion shortfall.

Watch here. I am.

Trustees are almost to the cuts. They're not quite there yet.

Which means you have a few minutes to read this plea for help, posted by the Dallas Friends of Public Education:
We Need Your Help!

Tell Us How DISD Can Keep the Budget Axe from Falling on Our Children

DISD is facing historic budget cuts, perhaps as much as $260 million, or 20% of the district's entire budget. Consistent with our mission, DFPE will be advocating strongly to protect students from these deep cuts. That means finding ways to cut administrative overhead rather than classroom teachers and supplies. We want to identify every administrative budget that should be cut - everything from the outright wasteful to the "nice but something we can live without" - before classroom budgets are cut. To do this, we need your help. We need the help of the public, parents, taxpayers and the many veteran DISD teachers and staff who know which administrative functions are necessary and which are not.

Please send us your suggestions. We will consider every one. Be as specific as you can. Tell us whether the program should be reduced, eliminated or outsourced. Any briefly tell us why. If you can, tell us the exact name of the program, where it shows up in the district's budget and how much money could be saved. (A copy of the district's budget can be found here.) When we have completed our review, we will publicize our recommended budget cuts. If you have provided an email (not required) we will send you the information and notice of our public budget meetings. DFPE will hold two public meetings during the last week of April and the first week of May to gather public input to present to the DISD Trustees and Administration. Plan to be there!
To the comments? Momentarily.

Update at 2:02 p.m.: In the comments you'll see what the super is proposing -- for starters, laying off 3,100 campus employees and 800 non-campus employees. Also mentioned: putting as many as 35 to 50 to even 60 students in a single classroom. "The new reality," as the super calls it.
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41 comments
Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Has Hiney taken ANY management classes?

Why in the heck did he announce the "new reality" of up 60 kids in a classroom?

No other school district is going to do this.

Any teachers worth his or her salt is now polishing their resumes to get the heck out of Dodge. All of the good teachers are going to be flooding what little openings are out there in other districts.

While every rotten teacher is hunkering down and hoping that enough good teachers will leave so that there will be a spot open for them (the bad teachers).

You are going to be left with a district with a bunch of cruddy teachers... who are teaching 60 kids a class.

There are sooooooo many teachers that are at or past retirement age. Give them a tiny incentive to retire early. Once you see how many bite, then announce you are going to get rid of the truly bad teachers.

Then, AND ONLY THEN, announce a need to increase class size.

Sheesh. This guy is heading up a $1 billion dollar school district?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

3000 teacher cuts, but not athletic coaches.A mere 800 central office cuts.Rodriguez, Durant, and Hiney keep their immoral salaries and feel no guilt at all.35 kids in a middle school class (even though George Bush said middle school is important!)

Surreal.If this is public education, end it now.

Guest856
Guest856

-Ask veteran teachers with more than 30 years to retire. -Charge out of district students who attend Night school and summer school.-Stop paying consultants money ASAP, their reports are always inconclusive.-Ask teachers how to solve the problems not consultants.-Use 1 online database not 2 or 3. Gradespeed is capable of doing attendance and grades.-Stop field trips-my school does about 10 field trips a day.-Save money with online staff development or have teachers do simple research papers in areas of certification. The personnel at Professional Development are rude, overpaid and tend to disqualify teachers from earning hours if teachers arrive 5 minutes late after having to drive an hour across town on a Saturday.-Cut Ivonne Durant, Claudia Rodriguez, and Hinojosa's salary.-Layoff teachers with high failure rates.-Charge out of district students who attend Margets, Nnght school, and summer school.

trashtalk
trashtalk

Let's boil it down to the "new model" of Dallas education:1. magnets will be severely underfunded to the point they can barely function--Hinojosa uses this emergency to get rid of magnet schools2. the 'best teachers" are about to get rewarded by getting a 10% pay cut and double the kids they used to teach in high school3. the emergency will be used as an excuse to fire the lowest 10% teachers who haven't figured out how to cheat well enough on state tests4. the contract with Teach for America will be honored because the long term goal is to flat-line teacher salaries and keep them in constant fear regarding their jobs

What won't change at all:Hinojosa essentially lied to the board today by referencing a state law that prevents school districts from paying teachers, nurses, and librarians less from one school year to another. He acted as if this law would prevent salary cuts in administration. It doesn't cover administration. If this board had either backbone or brains, they would use this emergency to lower the boom on 3700 Ross Avenue and empty it out, once and for all. They only people who need to remain are the CFO and other payroll people.

The board could declare a financial exigency and cut Hinojosa's pay in half along with his other chiefs who serve no purpose. Every kingdom down there could go and no one would notice.If the board was in shock today, they simply haven't been reading the news. That should give all Dallas citizens good reason not to reelect a single one of them. By getting rid of stipends, getting rid of central administration, and using small increases in class sizes, the majority of the problem would vanish. But that's not the new model that Hinojosa wants.The top crud stays in place while he lowers the boom on magnets and teachers.

What will probably happenDallas tax payers will get slammed through increased property taxes while governor Taliban good hair holds on to the rainy day fund and refuses to fix the sales tax loopholes. Dallas schools will remain as poor in quality as they are now because the board refuses to interpret this crisis as a way of ridding themselves of this stupid superintendent and all his cronies.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Does that 10% salary cut include Hiney and the rest of the DISD administraion at Ross? Surely Hiney can get by on only $360,000 a year...

Wow, I'm sure glad we're building all those new schools.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

This makes no friggin sense. The "new reality" is that we have to have 35-60 kids in a classroom. Is Plano ISD, Richardson ISD, Garland ISD, Highland Park ISD, etc. facing this "new reality" of doubling the number of kids in a classroom? Of course not. Once they are sending out warnings of increasing their class size along these lines, maybe I'll listen to Hiney's bullsnot.

The "new reality" that Hiney needs to be facing is the need to cut 3700 Ross to the bone. It is their incompetence that has created this mess.

pdbro
pdbro

They could just shut down NDHS. Everyone wins!

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Eric Cowan talks about super's phrase: the new reality.

"We need to let that sink in. We can't rely on the state to come back and say, 'Remember when we cut $250 million?' Here is it back with interest.' So what I am looking for is a business model that's sustainable ... five, 10 years down the line."

Super says: "You close you eyes and go back 120 years, we did education the same way we do it now." That will change.

Cowan says: 10,000 to 15,000 educators could be out of work throughout North Texas. And that will have an enormous economic impact on the region.

Cowan also needs to update his blog. He hasn't touched the damn thing since Christmas.

Ranger wants clarification on the kinds of jobs cut "on campus" (mostly teachers and counselors) and non-campus (800 administrators "and everybody else").

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Non-teaching staff COULD be furloughed without OK from state.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Says the super, furlough idea -- of up to 10 days -- is "resonating very well." Bills have been filed. "I feel confident that will get some success."

Nutall wants to know if that'll reduce layoffs.

Super says, sure, it saves $44 million.

But Blackburn doesn't want to "build a budget on what-ifs."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Why not cutting athletics, you ask? The super says, sure, he's biased but: "A coach gets most of their money from the teaching salary, then gets a $1,500 stipend and then works all those athletic events." And to get rid of athletics, he says, would mean "kids would be on the streets." Same with getting rid of band directors. "And we're not Plano -- we cant charge kids to participate in sports and music."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Nutall wants to know why there aren't more non-campus reductions ID'd. Says King, so far they've only excised the 200 vacancies at present. No idea where non-campus reductions will come from. But 620 more are forthcoming.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Here's another "traumatic" cut: Putting 35 students in a classroom for every one teacher in a secondary school, since they can't up student-teacher ratios in elementary schools.

Says super: "Draconian cuts."

He can see at, oh, Madison, there might be 50, 60 students in a class. Because that 35:1 ratio is "an average."

Says 10 furlough days would save $44 mil.10 percent pay cut would save $85 mil.25:1 in elementary: $21.6 million (and save the 35:1 in secondary schools)

But those things aren't on the table. Yet.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Only thing not on the table to be cut: "Best Teachers." And: "Fine Arts" teachers.

"We think they have big impact on student performance." Plus, Wallace Foundation gives $16 million.

Also off the table: "Closing schools."

Tried, he says, but "couldn't do it."

The super is proposing cutting 3,100 campus employees, 800 non-campus employees. "Then terminate contracts of contracted services."

Says the super's power point, cutting campus employees will save $161 million; non-campus; $48 million.

All cuts combined get the district only to $240 million.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

King, speed-flipping through present budget, says: There's no way you can make 20 percent of cuts "without hitting the campus."

90 percent of contracts can't be touched, he says. Too much money tied up in things that can't be gotten too.

Now on to slide 16: the "worst, worst-case scenario" -- $253 million in cuts. Says super, you remember how "painful" the cuts of '08 were. And that was small by comparison. Personnel would, of course, be affected. "This is our new reality."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Now: "more doom and gloom," says Blackburn.

Time for the budget cuts.

"Very, very preliminary," says the super, who whips out the DAGA thing he mentioned two weeks ago when we spoke. "You're gonna be in denial, then you're gonna be angry, then you're gonna grieve, then you're finally going to accept this is our new reality."

New CFO Alan King is about to make the presentation. Lucky fella. He says his name is "Larry King." Hilarious.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Super says: Higher standards are coming too -- STAR test!

Trustees moan.

"I told 'em, 'You're going to Tom Thumb or Fiesta and expect people to pat you on the back because you got rid of TAKS?'"

Says super: "Standards are getting higher," while resources disappear.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

"We're asking for some flexibility in mandates to deal with these cuts The city and county use their furlough days to balance their budgets. We ask for that relief. There are laws that say you can't cut salary for educators. We're asking for tthis to be done. You could become a home-role charter district. What happens if your school district became a charter?"

The super says there are "bills in the hopper that have been filed, are being filed, being written" to give district flexibility to deal with all this.

Super says he met with Royce West, Eric Johnson, Rafael Anchia, John Corona, Helen Giddings, Florence Shapiro in the last 48 hours to tell them what's about to come. "In full disclosure, this is our new reality."

Again, he mentions tax hike.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

The super's talking about what's been eliminated in the House's version of the budget: "everything." in short. As in: virtual school network money, no new money for textbooks, no small tech allotment, no instructional facility allotment, property value protection, pre-K grant is gone ("full day ... forget about it"), no summer school ("and we have a very elaborate summer school in Dallas"), AP incentive program

"Put yourself in my shoes. All this money's gone."

I just heard someone mutter, "Jesus." Who? Dunno. The super's going through this thing so fast I'd swear he was hit by a bolt of lightning while working with chemicals in the police lab.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

The super wants the state to spend its "very healthy" rainy day fund. But 2/3 of the legislators needed to allow that doesn't exist, per the super -- because, let's face it, the governor ain't gonna let that happen. "And the worst-case scenario becomes a reality."

The super says the $9-bil rainy day fund would save $2 bil from public-ed cuts statewide.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

"These cuts are so drastic," says the super, that all funding formulas are now "obsolete."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

According to the super's PowerPoint, 70 percent of the legislators don't want to cut school spending. Sixty-one percent don't want to increase class size. But, still, there's about to be a "big ol' blow up."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Now to the legislative update:

Super says the "structural deficient" was caused by two things: the franchise tax didn't replace drop in property tax dating back to '06, and the short-term effect of the stimulus funds that have since run out.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Before the "Preliminary Budget Reduction Plan," the super wanted to make sure the trustees and audience got a look at the Legislative Update. Problem is, the doc isn't loaded into the video monitors. So the super's jumping ahead to the Parent Board Council ("we're in it together," says Bernadette Nutall, who says getting parents involved "will help to solve the problems.")

The super wasn't about to pass the lege update before going to the budget cuts: The lege doc, he said, is "meaningful and impactful and sets the tone of where we are right now. It sets the stage."

So, we wait.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Why is the contract with Teach for America being honored?

These are kids right out of college who have no real desire to teach. They are simply padding their resumes to impress admission administrators in graudate programs.

They have no experience and spend two years with on-the-job training while taking the spots of real teachers. Once they finally get beyond the "baby teacher" phase and have some idea of what they are doing, their TFA contracts are up and they are off to graduate school.

Meanwhile, qualified teachers that are actually making a difference are cut.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I am admittedly borrowing this from an old Wanda Sykes special, but, if they let the single mothers, coupon clippers, etc., handle this budget, there would be no crisis. Only a surplus.

Jon
Jon

Family counselling? Psychiatric services? Mobil dental van?? This isn't a school district, it's a social services program. I don't doubt that these are necessary offerings for a portion of the community, but funding this through the school system is not the right answer.

Jon
Jon

100 years ago we didn't spend money on athletics, band, or obesity programs. These should be viewed as "nice to have" - not mandatory. New reality. Sounds like a better alternative to 35:1 ratios.

Jon
Jon

Have they discussed cutting athletics?

LaceyB
LaceyB

Larry King meet Kubler-Ross. Copycat.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Whatever happened to a strong teacher's union? Used to be like Teamsters in CalifornIa, where we knew a main negotiator. They NEVER would have let this happen...twice.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

He should be forced to make this same presentation to the teachers.You'd hear a lot more than muttering.Teachers HATE this man who says all the money's gone after he gave 3 suits at 3700 Ross $75K worth of raises on salaries that were already at $150+. In December. When he knew these cuts were coming.

He cannot lead this district, in spite of what LULAC wants.The teachers loathe him.The principals distrust him.

Fire him NOW.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Of course he wants the state to mow thru the rainy day fund.That way, he can keep spending lavishly on himself and his friends.

His scare tactics of 50 kids in a class are meant to blackmail the state into giving him a blank check.

The state needs to fight back and tell these mismanaged urban districts the cuts CANNOT come from campuses.

Taxpayers deserve a break from "public servants" like Hinojosa who make north of $350,000 a year while cramming 40 kids in a room instead of cutting their own "public servant" salaries in half.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Oy -- a squabble over who gets credit for engaging parents.

Nancy Bingham says she's offended her name wasn't included in support docs and mailers and whatever.

Nutall's about to cry. "Sorry I hurt your feelings."

This makes me sad.

trashtalk
trashtalk

TFA is tied into the Bush Institute is tied to Perry. The current strategy for urban districts is to use self-induced financial crises to dump the perceived low value-add teachers and to replace them with TFA.

Hinojosa lined up new TFA contracts and big raises for his cronies in December, well aware that this financial debacle was looming. He "owes" TFA if he intends to travel in the political circles he aspires to. Remember the DISD produced research on the effectiveness of TFA that seemed to come from nowhere? And the "research" disappeared just as quickly before anyone could examine its origins?

Hinojosa could retire tomorrow and draw $200K a year. He spends what few brain cells he has figuring out how to shield athletics and his cronies from his years of spending money like a drunk sailor on leave. He mentioned today that Rockwall has $200 million in savings while Dallas really has around $75 million and acted like someone else made the decisions to empty the piggy bank. When he was the puppet of the Citizens Council via Dallas Achieves, it was their brilliant idea to put their CFO stooge in place and create a financial crisis, all on Hinojosa's watch.

Hinojosa has Rick Perry syndrome. He's pretending he had nothing to do with this disaster and that a new high school model is all that is needed. He has added nothing of any significance since he hit town while loading up high paying jobs with every political clown in Dallas.

rumpunch
rumpunch

They generally are covered by another (non-state) grant. As long as that funding continues, then elimination of the program would not help the General Fund budget issue. To the extent that it is covered by General fund, it should be on the table.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I'm not sure that anyone understands what 35:1 quite means. Hop 35 hormonal boys full of carbs and sugary soda and stick em in a small classroom (often no pe and deoderant) and try to shove some learnin into em in 50 minutes.Girls are easier, but, you spend at least 10-20 quieting things down/reviewing. A mixed class? Oy.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

No. Not specifically. But I assume the campus and non-campus reductions will involve coaches.

Jon
Jon

Any children watching this mess tuned out long ago...

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