And so it begins. Though the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees does not meet till 2 today, to declare a state of "state of financial exigency" so it can begin laying off teachers in the wake of its $64-million budget shortfall, already campuses have begun shedding teachers. Programs too -- scheduled, highly anticipated field trips, for starters. But also gone are the essentials, as in: Sorry, but the copier room will remain open only two days a week, not three.
Yesterday, the boy brought home a note in which parents were informed that two teachers whose contracts were pending wouldn't be getting those contracts after all. Instead, those teachers -- in place since the beginning of the school year -- will be replaced by teachers "who are being released from other campuses in the district due to the restructuring of the district." The teachers and administrators are nervous and upset; this mess is messing with them. Allen Gwinn has some thoughts and suggestions about how the district might get out of this alive; he's opened the books and done his homework. And the teachers' unions are furious; "they'll never believe another thing to come out of 3700 Ross," says one of their leaders. And after today, after layoffs are OK'd and the board tells superintendent Michael Hinojosa to right the ship or or else, it will only get worse. --Robert Wilonsky