Budget Cuts to Hurt Vernon ISD Students

Administration officials with the Vernon Independent School District are bracing for a potential multimillion dollar cut to their funding that will affect students.

State legislators warn an estimated $9 billion cut to education and small communities like Vernon will be severely affected.

School officials are projecting a 20 percent decrease from state funding, which will cost Vernon between $2 million and $3.5 million. The Superintendent of Vernon ISD, Tom Woody, said the budget will hurt students in the community.

"There is not any way that this budget will not affect the students," he said.

Although the school board purchased new computers and busses during better times, the Superintendent said, the district will have to make severe cuts to break even. One thing that is not on the budget is updated testing materials for a brand new state-wide exam.

"All of the instruction materials that were scheduled to be adopted and purchased this year that were going to be aligned to the new test, " explained Woody. "At this point in time, those are not funded. So we're going to go in without new and updated materials that will address information that's being tested."

The Superintendent said students will not be prepared for the test and it will show in their scores.

"I think that you are going to see a drop in the test scores. You are also going to see, whether it's a teacher or instructional aid, you're going to end up with students not receiving the services next year that they've been able to receive this year," said Woody.

Vernon students will also have fewer course options.

"You are going to see some programs or some electives and things that students like, that are going to be really shortened or curtailed or possibly eliminated," said the Superintendent.

Although the school board and Superintendent are looking at hiring freezes and other ways to reduce spending, they say state cuts are forcing the district to take away from their students.

"If you cut to this extent, 20 percent, you do have to reduce what you offer to the students," he said.

Vernon ISD school board and administration staff knew potential cuts were coming, so they set up a fund to funnel some money. However, the funds will only help for about a year and this budget battle is expected to last several years.

District officials are in the process of explaining the budget crisis to school personnel, students, and parents. All concerned parents and students will be able to voice their opinions at the Vernon school board meeting on Monday February 21st. Members and administrators will talk about the budget battle in that meeting.

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6