From the looks of the bare-bones agenda, the Board of Trustees Budget Workshop doesn't appear to be all that exciting, especially when you consider that tangible answers about the budget-cutting to come are still a couple of months off. But this evening I called Dallas Independent School District spokesman Jon Dahlander about something tangentially related, and he mentioned that the board will be treated to a guest speaker at the outset of tomorrow's 1 p.m. meeting: Lynn Moak, namesake of Moak Casey & Associates, the consultants-slash-lobbyists who rep and advise a coalition of the state's largest school districts.
And there are at least two fairly significant item on the agenda, including "Discussion of Early Resignation Incentive for Non-Contract Employees." As Dahlander explains, the district's considering offering to central staffers and those "not considered teachers" at the campus level the same buyout offer extended to teachers last month. "We will find out if the board is interested," says Dahlander, who adds that the trustees will also spend tomorrow mapping out priorities -- "as in," he says, "which programs should be kept and which ones should go."
Moak, a former Texas Education Agency staffer, is expected to present to the board the latest intel about where the Senate and House are heading with their respective cuts to public education. Says Dahlander, "He'll give a comparison of what's being discussed in the Senate and House and the impact it would have on us. It'll be interesting to have him explain to our board exactly what the latest information is and provide the framework for where we're going. And it'll be good for the community to hear it.
"Because the thing is, it's constantly evolving. The Senate last week came up with a version that was going to bring down the overall hit our district to $74 million, which is still significant, but given the steps we've taken with the early resignation incentive, that'll help, and if there's additional flexibility in terms of furlough days and perhaps being able to reduce salaries, then you're talking about being able to whittle this down and minimize the impact. That's a positive. And the governor agreed to tap the Rainy Day Fund for $3.2 billion. So that could change things as well. But at the same time we're still concerned about the House version, which is still over $200 million in cuts."
Ironically, DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa may not make it to the briefing -- he'll just be returning from Austin following a Thursday-morning sit-down with the local legislative delegation. Dahlander says he expects the super to make most of the meeting.
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