RISD budget crisis strategies aim to preserve instructors’ jobs

Nobody has a tougher job this spring in Texas than school administrators who are grappling with how to deal with the state education funding shortfall.

Rockdale ISD, through years of prudent management, has a larger fund balance on which to rely than most districts its size but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some deep cuts on the way.

Trustees hosted their first board budget workshop Thursday, got a list of 28 possible options on where cuts might be made and took action on one.

But equally important is that the philosophy on just how the district hopes to deal with the loss of between $600,000 and $1.7 million in state funds annually has already emerged loud and clear.

The RISD does not want to lay off teachers, nor does it want to sacrifice educational quality.

Supt. Dr. Howell Wright referred to teachers as “where the rubber meets the road,” a reference to a famous tire commercial of years past. Teachers are the conduit for what happens in the educational process.

Will RISD be able to pull it off? They’ll give it their best shot. Already the district is offering incentives for most personnel if they will opt for an early decision on resigning for the 2011-12 term.

That will let planners figure on attrition (not replacing positions) well before the usual time budgets are prepared. That’s more crucial than ever this year.

It’s a delicate balance. Administrators have vowed not to let any philosophy of attrition interfere with the quality education RISD patrons have come to expect.

It’s going to be a massive task and, as was pointed out Thursday, will require management based on data and not on emotions.

Based on the commitment evident in Thursday’s workshop, the effort is off to a good start.—M.B.

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2011-02-17 digital edition

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