San Antonio Schools Grapple with Budget Crisis amid State Funding Failures

Empty school budget office.

San Antonio Schools Face Budget Crisis Amid State Funding Failures

San Antonio school districts, like those across Texas, are bearing the burden of the state legislature’s failure to pass a comprehensive education funding bill in the last session. As a result, they are being forced to cut programs and reduce positions to maintain operating costs and offer small raises to a limited pool of staff. Coupled with the stagnant state funding, ISD’s are also facing inflation, declining student enrollment, low attendance, and the cessation of federal pandemic relief funding.

Alamo City Band Camp Cancelled

One notable casualty is the Alamo City Band Camp, which had been a staple for musicians across the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) for over a decade. This summer, the camp will not take place, as first reported by The San Antonio Report.

Superintendent Jaime Aquino emphasized the severity of the situation during a recent board meeting, attributing the district’s financial problems to state-level decisions. “I just want to make sure that everybody in the public understands that we are in a dire financial situation, and we find ourselves here because Austin has put us here,” said Superintendent Aquino.

Financial Struggles Across ISD’s

Despite significant cuts to the central office, suspension of most summer programs, and elimination of less popular electives, SAISD still finds themselves in a precarious financial position “We are struggling even to offer the most basic services because we’re put in this position,” Aquino said.

SAISD joins a long list of ISD’s who are facing massive budget deficits. For example, North East Independent School District is eliminating 140 unfilled campus-level positions and 16 unfilled central office positions, totaling over $13 million in savings, yet it still adopted a deficit budget, as first reported by The San Antonio Report. Edgewood Independent School District is projecting significant savings from closing two schools and eliminating central office positions. Southside Independent School District is working towards a balanced budget, but details on cuts are not yet available.

Abbott’s Voucher Plan Blamed for Funding Crisis

Gov. Greg Abbott’s obsession with vouchers, which would allow tax dollars to be spent on private schools, killed every public education funding bill in the Legislative session. Since then, lawmakers, school advocates and superintendents have been pressing Abbott to call a special session focused solely on education funding.

State Rep. Steve Allison criticized the Governor for tying funds to his private school voucher plan. “The inescapable fact is that Abbott held the needs of school districts hostage for his private school voucher plan,” Allison said. “Abbott needs to restore the trust that he is committed to public education by doing what is clearly necessary. He must carefully and thoughtfully consider all public school students and their families, and call an immediate special session to address school funding, including increasing the basic allotment, teacher and staff compensation, and school safety,” He concluded.

Supporters of Abbott’s plan argue that unnecessary spending, rather than a lack of funding, is to blame for the budget issues. For example, Mandy Drogin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation contended that districts have misused taxpayer dollars, investing in extravagant facilities and administrative costs instead of direct educational benefits.

Call for Urgent Action

As calls for a special session on education funding grow, the urgency of the situation is clear. Allison and other advocates warn that waiting until the next legislative session could be too late to prevent further damage to school programs and staff positions.

San Antonio school districts are facing a challenging road ahead as they navigate the financial crisis brought on by the state’s funding failures. Without immediate action, the impact on students, teachers, and the overall quality of education in the area could be severe.

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