Teacher furlough bill headed to governor's desk

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on June 29, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 30 at 12:35 AM

DALLAS — Chrisdya Houston, a third grade teacher, at Onesimo Hernandez Elementary School in Dallas, is already bracing for what her new paycheck will look like.

"When you look at your own personal budget; when you are paying for graduate school and you have other teachers who have families that they have to pay childcare and all type of expenses that go into everyday life," she said.

The Dallas Independent School District teacher is set to lose her yearly "English as a Second Language" stipend because of budget cuts — a $500 cut.    

Now, she might also be forced to take unpaid furlough days. It could lead Houston to cut back on classroom items she pays for out of her own pocketbook.

"There might be times when you have to think twice about whether we are going to go that extra, extra mile and do something monetarily that's going to benefit our students," Houston said. 

The Texas Legislature approved a bill (SB 8) that lets school districts slash teacher pay and implement up to six furlough days beginning in 2012.

The measure is waiting for Gov. Rick Perry's signature.

Opponents believe he will sign it, and they are calling it an attack on teachers. 

"In Dallas, that's almost $1,600 of income that our employees will not see," said Rena Honea, president of the AFT/Alliance Dallas teachers union.

Supporters argue the bill will save money and jobs. 

School districts across North Texas and the state have been pushing for the measure.  They wanted the state to give them the flexibility to furlough because of the reduction in state education funding.  

But AFT/Alliance and others believe legislators could have taken a different route. 

"This is a shameful legacy they are leaving for the next two years, and really carry over into three or four years," Honea said.  "I think the results are going to be devastating."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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