A letter from Martin Peña, director of the South Texas Association of Schools, gave warning of this.
“In 2011, the Legislature will be looking at a budget deficit of nearly $15 billion, and maybe more,” Peña wrote in the e-mail which was sent to Hardwick. “Do not plan on getting legislative relief for the next biennium. We will be lucky to hold on to what we have.
“The only new money that you can expect is the revenue realized due to an increase in enrollment.
“Most of that will be used to keep up with inflationary increases in such things as health insurance, property insurance, fuel costs, utilities, etc.
“Those of you with declining enrollment will have less revenue as the hold harmless is guaranteed on a per weighted pupil basis.
“Many of you will probably have to consider a tax ratification election to raise your maintenance and operation tax rate above $1.04.
“At the same time, we are waiting on an attorney general opinion regarding a mandatory teacher pay increase for 2010-2011.”
Hardwick said that news comes at a time when the district’s budget is already stretched thin.
“We just can’t get caught up,” he said. “We have been significantly behind the curve with what other districts are receiving.”
Hardwick was referring to the discrepancy in what some school districts get per child and lesser amounts given to other districts like Beeville.
Beeville, he said, receives $4,380 per child. Alamo Heights gets $6,561 per child while Greenville receives $5,287.
“We think every child ought to have the same opportunity,” he said. “At least when they start out, they should have the same opportunity.”
“The parents in Beeville would be doing cartwheels because of the additional instructional support we could provide if the state would just close the funding gap a little. Indeed, this could provide over $3 million to BISD if we were just nearer the average for the state.”
Hardwick, who chairs the state Money Matters Committee out of the Equity Center, said that research proves the more money used to educate youths reveals higher TAKS scores and completion rates.
He and other superintendents are working to improve the system so that students in all school districts are given the same chance to succeed.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.