WFISD Could Layoff Teachers To Help Balance Budget

The multi-billion dollar Texas budget battle may cost some Texoma teachers their jobs.

Right now, the Texas Legislature is expected to cut an estimated $8 million from the Wichita Falls Independent School District. Officials with the WFISD tell NewsChannel 6 if such cuts are made in Austin, teachers may be laid off.

Donna Ansel, a resident in Wichita Falls, believes education is being sacrificed for money.

"I think it's the wrong place to make a cut, our children need proper education and proper teachers," said Ansel.

Clarence Sanders, a father of 6 girls, also feels the cuts shouldn't come from schools.

"It's kind of ridiculous, you know. Our education system is very important. Our kids are not being educated properly if we don't have enough funds," said Sanders.

Debbie Osborn, Human Resources Coordinator with the WFISD, doesn't want the layoffs to happen, but said the lack of state funding may force the district's hand.

"I think it's inevitable that we will have to look at reducing positions at some point," explained Osborn. "Because personnel make up such a large part of our budget, I think it's inevitable that we are going to have to touch employees positions at some point. We don't know how deep we'll have to go, but I think it is inevitable."

For Sanders, whose daughters currently go to WFISD schools, teachers are crucial for education.

"We only have so many good teachers out there. If we lose anymore teachers, I don't know, that's not going to be good for us," he said.

Ansel agrees. "I think if anything, we need more teachers. Our teachers are doing a wonderful job," she explained.

Especially since educators across Texas are expected to do more with less. A new, expensive testing system will be put into place next year, even though legislators plan to slash $10 billion to the public education fund.

According to the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, the state needs teachers for children to succeed.

"We just now created a new accountability system. There's going to be a whole lot of additional instruction or remediation that's going to be needed to deal with those tests," said Lonnie Hollingsworth, Governmental Relations Coordinator with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. "With this increased expectations for the schools, it's really difficult for the schools to meet those expectations."

For districts like WFISD, officials are playing a waiting game to see how drastic their lack of funding will be before any decisions are made.

"We still don't know, obviously what the legislature is going to do. But we know we are up against a timeline," said Osborn.

However, representatives with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association feel teachers need to be prepared and warn the newest educators who are still in the probationary phase of their employment may be the first to go.

"Teachers should be worried, they should contact their legislators," said Hollingsworth. "It can become a grassroots effort!"

WFISD district officials plan to look at many options, such as a hiring freeze or a salary freeze, to balance the budget. Already one proposed plan, failed to make the vote.

Graham ISD and Vernon ISD are also responding to the threat of million's cut from their budgets. See what Graham ISD and Vernon ISD plan to cut.

Officials with the Association hope Texas leaders can come to some compromise before the state suffers. "Cuts at this time are going to be a major step back," said Hollingsworth. "And it would take many years, if not decades to recover."

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6