The Wichita Falls Independent School District has a new budget. Yet many parents are concerned that the balanced budget comes at a cost and that children's education may be affected.
The school board's bottom line is even, but getting a balanced budget without raising taxes means that educational programs had to be slashed and that makes some parents uncomfortable.
On Monday, parents, teachers, and residents crowded into the budget hearing as the WFISD's $135 million operating plan was laid out.
Reginald Blow, School Board President said that he "was overjoyed that we were able to develop a balanced budget."
The budget may be balanced, but it comes at a price. Two popular programs slashed their costs. The Stanford Test, a national test that compares the scores of students in the WFISD with kids from across the country now will not be administered to three grades. It's the Academic Success Program that has parents like Valerie Rhodes talking. "It's more than just a college readiness program," says the concerned parent, "it also prepares the children for their leadership skills and it also prepares the families for what college life is going to be."
The Academic Success Program or A.S.P helps students who are economically disadvantaged prepare for tests, apply for grants, and ultimately, get into college. The program was started in Wichita Falls and in the last 12 years, has sent more students to Harvard than any other public school in the country.
"One thing about the A.S.P program is that it took those academically acceptable students and made them exemplary students and got them to colleges that they would never image that they can go to" says Rhodes.
In order to balance the budget, the school district cut $100,000 from the A.S.P's operating costs. That eliminates some of the facilitators or personnel that help the students. And Rhodes says that preparing kids for college shouldn't come at a price. "This is an administration that claims that they are all for college readiness and to prepare our students, " says Rhodes, "and the program that doing that is being cut."
But President Blow says "A.S.P has had to tighten it's belt like everybody else. And so I'm just thankful that we were able to salvage it. That we didn't have to get rid of it all together."
Ultimately, the board boasts that all programs that had budgets were slashed are still viable.