At last week's budget town hall, Dallas Independent School District trustee Edwin Flores took a thinly veiled shot at U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who he did not name, over the $830 million in federal Education Jobs Fund money presently sitting in D.C. As Flores told it, Doggett's blocking the money from entering the state and saving teachers' jobs -- simple as that. But, of course, it's hardly that simple at all.
Doggett's amendment to H.R. 1586 demands that money be "used only for awards to local educational agencies for the support of elementary and secondary education." Which Doggett insisted upon after Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature used billions in federal stimulus dough to balance the budget two years ago. As the Texas Observer writes in its primer on the subject, which you'll find on Doggett's website, "Doggett's fear was that Perry would treat the funds as a $830 million blank check."
This morning, The Wall Street Journal tackles the subject, as Doggett and Perry's people back-and-forth on the subject. Says Doggett, "Federal aid to education should actually aid education in our local Texas schools, not provide a bailout to the governor for his mismanagement of the state budget." Retorts Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger: "It's outrageous that someone from Washington would attempt to dictate how a state, especially one as economically competitive as Texas, should spend money."
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Meanwhile, on Thursday the DISD board will get a look at "Preliminary Budget Reduction Plan Version 2.0"-- and then more than likely approve a resolution to "Declare a Financial Exigency and the Need for a Reduction in Force Affecting all Positions."
In the Journal piece, the DISD super weighs in on the battle for the bucks.
Michael Hinojosa, superintendent at Dallas Independent School District, said the federal money could offset some of the cuts he is considering. Under his current plan, high school classrooms would swell to 35 students from the current 25, teachers' allowances for supplies would be reduced and some 4,000 teaching jobs could be eliminated.
Even if Dallas's share of the Washington money arrives -- about $50 million, according to Mr. Hinojosa -- it won't be enough to cover his district's projected $253 million shortfall for next school year. But, he said, it would help. "We don't care how they work it out," he said of the state's politicians. "I don't think that children should be pawns in a political battle."