During the winter months, I pay close attention to the weather forecasts. Snow or ice storms before or during a school day can create conditions in which adjustments to the school schedule – delayed start, early release, or cancellation – may be necessary.
The weather is what it is, and a school district must react appropriately.
There is another forecast out there that I pay close attention to, and it is not the weather forecast. It is the financial forecast. The prediction is that public schools are in for a financial storm.
What does the storm look like?
In an article in The Texas Tribune (January 19, 2011, online version) the storm is described in this way, “In public education, the cuts are so deep they fall $9.8 billion short of meeting current school finance formulas. The proposed budget does not include funding for the increased number of students or a decline in property values statewide.”
One State Senator has written, “When you look at this budget and its implications for the future of Texas, one word comes to mind: devastating.”
This financial storm looks ugly, and school districts must react appropriately.
What are the appropriate reactions?
The first appropriate reaction is to face the facts.
Fact one: There is a huge shortfall between estimated revenue and present budgeted expenditures.
Fact two: Public education will not be spared cuts in funding.
The second appropriate reaction is to prepare for the storm.
There are mental and financial preparations.
Mental preparation is necessary. Texas’ public school districts will be required to do more with less. There are more students; there is less money. There are more changes; there is less money. When “more” collides with “less” schools will look different. We need to mentally prepare for a future where less trumps more.
Financial preparation is necessary, too. Districts have been placed in a very difficult situation. The storm is not of their making, yet they have been charged with dealing with the damage. The bottom line: our present spending priorities must be open to adjustment.
We are in for a financial storm.
The good news is that Midlothian ISD will survive, and on the other side of the storm, MISD will thrive.