East Texas school districts wait for decision on budget cuts

Superintendent Roy Knight
Superintendent Roy Knight
Superintendent Mary Whiteker
Superintendent Mary Whiteker

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - This was the last week of school for many East Texas students, it was also the last week of the state's legislative session in Austin.  However, the state's schools still have no idea how much they'll be missing from next year's budgets.

"Let me compare and contrast, all 517 of our grads have been admitted to the next step in higher ed. As compared to the legislative session which still can't get their job done," said Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight.

As time runs out for state lawmakers, educators wait for word on how much less they'll be working with over the next two years.  Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Whiteker stays in touch with what's happening at the Capitol regarding school finance.

"Right now, it's in conference committee meaning there are five senators and five house members negotiating the final bill," said Whiteker.

Those ten lawmakers are looking at two very different bills that would decide how school district's share the impact of the four billion dollar shortfall.  Knight is completely opposed to the house version.

"The first choice is an across the board 6% cut. The poorest get 6% and the wealthiest get 6%," said Knight."

"I guess the expression could be in some school districts you're cutting the fat. In East Texas, you're cutting bone," said Whiteker.

Knight and Whiteker, however, do support the Senate's version.

"The reduction for Hudson and other schools in East Texas will range anywhere from 2 to 4%," said Whiteker.

They say it's the equitable route since it takes into account how much each district stands to lose.

With word most likely coming this weekend, if state lawmakers don't want to come back for a special session, both Whiteker and Knight say they'll be staying close to home this weekend.

"I'll be on the phone with my legislator all weekend. I'll be watching the Internet closely, the live broadcast," said Knight.

"You sit and wait," added Whiteker.

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