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ISD funding a waiting game

February 14, 2011

Big Spring Independent School District officials are playing a financial waiting game of sorts as they try to determine just how big an economic impact the state's budget shortfall will have locally.

With Texas facing a projected budget shortfall in excess of $15 billion, it stands to reason that state aid to school districts such as BSISD will be reduced this coming fiscal year. The question local educators are facing is: How big will the reduction be?

Sandra Waggoner, BSISD Chief Financial Officer, said the news coming out of Austin is better than it was just a week ago, but that doesn't mean the news is necessarily good.

“As of right now, it appears we're looking at a 15 percent reduction in state funding,” Waggoner told school trustees last week. “For us, that would mean a loss of revenue of about $4 million.”

The loss of that much state revenue would mean BSISD would have to look for even more cuts from a prospective budget that was already going to be fairly lean, Waggoner said.

School districts are in a particularly tough fix because they have to start planning for the next budget cycle without knowing for sure what kind of state aid will be available. At best, legislators will not adopt the state budget until May, and it is highly possible the process could take even longer.

“Until we have more numbers to work with, we have to plan with the numbers we have,” Waggoner said.

BSISD is already looking at several areas to trim costs, such as putting off indefinitely the purchase of new technology, buses and other vehicles.

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