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ISDs brace for financial storm

January 31, 2011

Public school educators in Howard County are bracing for a chilly spring, financially speaking.

With the state facing a $15 billion shortfall, it stands to reason that financial aid to public school districts will be reduced this year, so it's not a question of if the fiscal news coming out of Austin will be bad, but how bad that news will be.

The Texas House's version of the budget will cut $5 billion from aid to school districts this year. If that version stands, Howard County schools will lose millions of dollars in state aid, according to figures released by Moak Casey & Associates, a firm that specializes in school finance and accountability issues.

Under the company's formula, Big Spring ISD could lose between $3.4 million and $5.1 million, while Coahoma ISD could lose between $924,000 and $1.12 million and Forsan ISD between $914,000 and $1.15 million. The wide ranges of the estimates reflect several possible funding formulas the state may follow.

Regardless, the financial impact on the county's school districts could be significant.

“This is bad,” Randy Johnson, Forsan ISD superintendent, said of the possible cuts. “Even if the cuts end up in the lower range (of the estimates), we'll be cutting into the meat of our budget.”

“If you're talking about cutting $3.4 million, you're talking about more than 10 percent of our budget,” said Sandra Waggoner, chief financial officer at Big Spring ISD. “That's a big hit.”

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