• March 11, 2011

    HISD Budget Crisis

    MYTH: HISD employs far more administrators than teachers.

    FACT: 63.2 percent of HISD's workforce is made up of people who work directly with students in schools. These individuals include teachers, teacher's aides, principals, assistant principals, special education service providers, psychologists, social workers, librarians, nurses, and counselors.

    An additional 36.5 percent of the total employee base is made up of auxiliary staff — people who support students in other important ways: custodians who clean schools, maintenance workers who make sure buildings are in good condition, police officers who protect students and staff, transportation employees who make sure children get to school safely and on time. This group also includes school secretaries, campus clerks, non-instructional aides, accountants, as well as employees in the purchasing, technology, academic services and payroll departments. Central administrators make up less than 0.4 percent of the HISD workforce.

    Texas school finance experts Moak, Casey & Associates conducted a similar statewide review of school district personnel. The group says, "Though Texas employs a large number of staff that are not classified as classroom teachers, these individuals are largely not administrative staff. Most are providing services to students and are not easily expendable, particularly if current service levels are to be maintained and compliance with federal and state requirements is to be met."

    MYTH: By eliminating HISD's First Class Breakfast program, the district could use the money it saves to offset the anticipated $171 million shortfall.

    FACT: HISD's First Class Breakfast Program is paid for with federal reimbursement funds from the United States Department of Agriculture, which sponsors and manages the Breakfast in the Classroom program. At the end of every month, HISD Food Services submits to the U.S.D.A. the actual number of breakfasts served to students. The U.S.D.A. then deposits a certain dollar amount per breakfast into the HISD Food Services Enterprise Fund. By federal law, these funds and any funds generated by a school food services department cannot be moved into a school district's general operating fund.

    MYTH: HISD is rushing the district's budget without knowing what the Legislature is going to do and should wait until the state has approved its own budget.

    FACT: By state law, HISD must adopt a budget for 2011-2012 no later than June 30, 2011. The district must meet this deadline even if the Legislature has not passed an appropriations bill by then. Some predict that the Legislature may not adopt a budget until late spring/early summer and may even have to enter a special session. Regardless, HISD must continue with its review and planning efforts in order to have a budget approved by the state imposed deadline. The district's budget will more than likely be amended after the final state appropriations bill is adopted.

    MYTH: The 250 central office staff members recommended for elimination will be rehired in the district's professional development department.

    FACT: HISD's Office of Budget and Financial Planning has identified 286 professional and support staff positions at the central office that can be eliminated. Of those positions, 95 are currently vacant. The jobs up for elimination are from various departments including transportation, facility and construction services, budgeting, accounting, benefits, superintendent's office, academic departments, media relations, grants office, etc. Efforts will be made to assist displaced employees with their resumes and job search efforts, but individuals will not be given "new jobs" in the district's professional development office.

    MYTH: HISD is taking funds from other schools and using them on the Apollo 20 program.

    FACT: The current budget for the Apollo 20 campuses does not take any funds from school allocations. There are three sources of funds for the Apollo 20 program for the 2010–11 school year. Those include state grants, federal grants, and private funds.

    MYTH: There is a bill filed in Austin to change the teacher retirement annuity service multiplier from 2.3 percent to 2.0 percent.

    FACT: The Board of the TRS or Teacher Retirement System of Texas has no plans to change the multiplier. Currently the standard service retirement annuity is an amount computed on the basis of the member's average annual compensation for 5 years of service in which the member receives the highest compensation, times 2.3 percent for each year of service credit in the retirement system. The HISD government relations department is tracking any and all legislation that pertains to teacher retirement and the district's benefits team will notify teachers of any legislative proposals that may affect their benefits.