Shorter School Year. Teacher Furloughs. That Won't Shrink DISD's Budget By $280 Million.

While the Plano Independent School District is already preparing for a worst-case scenario and eliminating top-tier administrative positions, the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees is not scheduled to address the state's $25-billion shortfall at its meeting on Thursday -- save for that resolution to which we directed your attention yesterday. Jon Dahlander, the district's spokesman, tells Unfair Park today that's not likely to happen till its next board briefing, scheduled for February 10. At that point, he says, the board will be brought up to speed on conversations presently taking place "internally" at DISD HQ on Ross Avenue.

Dahlander reiterates what Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has said publicly in recent days: The budget bill presently in the State House could wind up costing Texas ISDs close to $10 billion and 100,000 jobs. DISD, says Dahlander, could lose as much as $260 million -- more than four times the 2008 budget shortfall of $64 million, which led to hundreds of layoffs.

We hope to speak with the super before week's end. Dahlander says he's taking all offers to speak to administrators, teachers, parents, students and media "in order to get ahead of this." Hence, says Dahlander, that memo sent to DISD employees last week -- the one in which Hinojosa said things were "grim." How grim?

There are several options on the table, says Dahlander, chief among them cutting back the school year -- from 180 to 175. He also says the district will look into using furlough days the same way the city has to reduce its budget gap. Both could lead to "significant savings," he says, but won't come close to filling the hole. He says the district's also looking at how to raise taxes without first having to ask the voters.

Dahlander adds that Hinojosa and the other superintendents across Texas are asking parents to call lawmakers and beg them to look for cuts elsewhere. More significant: They want the Lege to tap into the state's $9-billion rainy day fund -- which GOP lawmakers insist is off-limits.

"If this isn't a rainy day," says Dahlander, "what is?"

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky