Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to top


No Comments

Texas Education Budget Cuts Force Tough Decisions for Principals Across Houston

Texas Education Budget Cuts Force Tough Decisions for Principals Across Houston
  • On March 8, 2011

HOUSTON, TX- Mrs. Kim Heckman is the principal at Park Place Elementary School. Her days consist of board meetings and teacher evaluations to make sure that the students are getting the best education possible in her school. But this year is different. Never before has Mrs. Heckman been faced with the toughest decision in her educational career. Mrs. Heckman must cut teachers and support staff to make up for the massive budget cuts that HISD is facing for the 2011-2012 year.

On Tuesday January 18, 2011 the Texas Legislative Budget Board proposed slashing $10 billion in funding for Texas public schools for the next 2 years to make up for the $28.6 billion deficit that Texas is facing. That is $5 billion a year.  The Texas House is also planning to eliminate $26.5 million that HISD receives in Texas Education Agency grants, which provide funding for full day pre-k classes, and pay for a large amount of HISD’s ASPIRE program that rewards teachers for students that do well in their classes.

According to HISD, the district has been preparing “to make drastic cuts to the 2011-2012 budget” to cover the $171 million that the district will be short next year.  A recent Press Release from HISD last week states that the district is planning on laying off hundreds of staff, many of whom are teachers. The layoffs are part of a budget proposal that HISD is currently working on to cover their deficit. Other parts of the budget proposal include increasing the district’s property tax rate and reducing the optional homestead exemption.

At a recent Budget Workshop on Thursday February 24th, 2011, CFO Melinda Garrett stated, “Even with reductions at the central office we are still going to have to make a considerable amount of cuts to offset the reduction in state funding. The end result is that we are going to have to reduce the per-student funding each [school] receives which means principals are going to have to make cuts on their campus.”

Principal Heckman knows that it will not be an easy decision. She says she is trying to cut non-essential staff as a way to save money and protect the classroom, “I am looking at clerks, teaching assistants, support staff and ancillary teachers to save money in those areas because I don’t want to have an impact in the classroom. If I cut classroom teachers, I have to increase the class size and I am trying to avoid that because it would impact the quality of instruction.”

But should parents be worried about their children’s education? “I think parents should be concerned. They should be ready to see that their children’s classroom may look different next fall,” says Sarah Greer Osborne, a Media Relations Specialist at HISD. Jane Kim Perez, a 3rd grade teacher at Park Place Elementary School, has a different point of view. “Yes as a parent with a young child I am worried about our education and the direction that we are taking. And the children are the future of our country, for everything. So I think that [education] is very important.”

For now, HISD principals, including Principal Kim Heckman, are left faced with the tough decision of just who will be laid off come the end of this school year and whether or not that individual will be a teacher of your child’s classroom. For more information on the proposed budget cuts HISD is facing and for more ways to get involved, visit their website at