Monday, October 6, 2008

Dallas Schools Struggle Financially as Well

From Teacher Magazine:

Dallas Teachers Brace for Pink Slips

Dallas teachers can expect to hear as early as this week whether they are among the nearly 1,100 layoffs approved by the city’s school board on October 2, according to The Dallas Morning News. Teachers will account for half of the layoffs, as the district tries to fill an $84 million shortfall in this year’s budget.

Many teachers told the newspaper they felt frustrated by district administrators’ handling of the crisis.“They don’t care about us,” said elementary school educator Kimberly Stephens. “If they did, they would have found another way to help clean up this mess.”

“I’ve always been proud to be a Dallas Independent School District alum, but today I am ashamed,” said Richard Goodwin, a geography teacher and 31-year veteran of the school district. “If district Superintendent Michael Hinojosa were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he would be cut.”

The layoffs, which the school board passed in a 5-2 vote with one abstention, are expected to save the district about $30 million, according to The Houston Chronicle. But even combined with $38 million from other budget cuts, they still leave the district $15 million short.

The reality is that school districts are professional services organizations, and viritually all of the spending has to do with personnel costs. There is simply no way for a school district to significantly cut back on spending without reducing staff expenses.

What is disappointing to me in our situation here in Hilliard is that the most senior teachers are casting their young colleagues to the wind rather than share the pain. Their demonstration of selfishness may be what undoes public support, costing them all in the end..... pl


  1. This comment is not directly related to your post, but I would feel better about our education system if there were more of an emphasis on economics and personal finance at the high school level.

    Part of the reason for America's current crisis is huge personal and public debt. A few basic concepts ought be taught, such as the time value of money, the effect of free trade, and the impact of taxation on the economy.

    It's odd that nationally we're heading in the direction of greater socialism at the very time that socialism has been so disproven, not only by the Soviet Union but also by the European economies which are struggling with high rates of unemployment and are moving in the opposite direction.

    Are we trending liberal because our education system is liberal? The students of the radical '60s have become powerful, tenured professors at our institutions of higher learning. Our teachers depend on government for their livelihood and so are hardly neutral. It's difficult for me to be enthused over an educational system that I believe is moving us in the wrong direction.

    Studies of academia show that the professors most likely to have a conservative bent are professors of economics, while those of the humanities and "soft" sciences are the most liberal. Which makes sense, because it's easier to be liberal if you deal with the anecdotal rather than take a macro view.

  2. Eire:

    I agree wholeheartedly that basic economics and personal finance should be required courses in high school.

    Like you, I've said that it is insane to expect our schools to teach our kids how to thrive in a competitive economy when the teachers live in a system nearly devoid of competition.

    That's the reason I advocate the elimination of public school districts - at least the notion of school district boundaries. Let's give each and every kid a voucher representing 100% tuition at any accredited school they want to attend (one of the conditions of accreditation is the acceptance of the voucher as 100% tuition).

    This is exactly the way our college education system works, and it should be used for K-12 as well. The only reason not to is that the teachers themselves are terrified of the notion of competing for kids and competing for their jobs.


  3. FYI - textbooks are ridiculously expensive, one of the biggest scams going. Publishers will change things in an edition just to make the used book market for that text obsolete.

    Other school districts aren't taking this lying down:

  4. DALLAS (AP) Dallas school officials laid off hundreds of teachers Thursday in an attempt to avoid a projected $84 million budget deficit.

    About 375 teachers, or 3 percent of the district's 11,500 teaching workforce, were released Thursday and an additional 460 were transferred to other schools, district officials said.

    Some 40 assistant principals and counselors were also given notice on Thursday.

    "Today is a day of tremendous sadness throughout the district," Dallas schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a statement. "These teachers and counselors are people who devoted themselves to helping Dallas students and we will do everything within our power to help them find new jobs."

    The school district did not release a breakdown on the types of teachers involved in the layoffs, but The Dallas Morning News had previously reported that a preliminary draft it obtained showed that the majority were believed to be uncertified elementary school teachers, most of whom were hired within the last three years. The newspaper said the preliminary report also showed several dozen high school-level English and history teachers would be laid off.

    Last week, about 215 teachers left the district under an employee buyout program that let workers volunteer for the layoff. In addition, 213 non-contract workers have been let go since Sept. 29 and the district eliminated another 197 vacant positions.

    The deficit, which increased by about $1 million each week, was caused by years of accounting, budgeting and hiring errors in the Dallas Independent School District, officials said last month.

    School officials have said they expect 1,100 total cuts, including layoffs and eliminations of vacant positions.

    The district said the combination of job cuts and unfilled vacancies will result in a net savings of about $30 million. An additional $38 million is being saved via program cuts throughout the district.

    Hinojsa said more cost-cutting measures will be needed.