Arlington parents, teachers plan march on Austin

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on February 16, 2011 at 2:55 AM

ARLINGTON — North Texas school districts are facing a looming financial crisis.

Dallas ISD has to cut $250 million to balance the budget; Fort Worth expects to lose $80 million in state funding; Plano is bracing for a $65 million shortfall; and Arlington is planning to deal with a $48 million deficit.

More than 100 people met at an Arlington school tonight to hear about the teachers and programs they're on the verge of losing — and to discuss how they can stop it.

Boles Junior High School student Bailey Woodard is learning a hard lesson outside the classroom these days — one in politics and cruel math.

"It's sort of sad," she said. Bailey's mother and grandmother both work in Arlington ISD schools.

 

"I'm more worried about my grandmother, because they said next year her job won't be available," Bailey said.

Districts across the state are preparing for deep cuts. Arlington is considering cutting some band, orchestra, and fine arts programs, along with teachers who don't have tenure.

That's more than a quarter of the teaching staff at Boles.

"Some of them are involved in programs they brought to the school, and if they leave, the program will probably go with them," said PTA president Lisa Grabowski.

On Tuesday night, Grabowski held a meeting to convince parents to literally march on Austin.

"I was fine as a robot running a PTA meeting, but this sort of political activism is something I've never been involved in," she said.

Now, PTA parents say it's time to come off the sidelines..

"It sounds cliche — 'power of the people' — but it means a lot," said substitute teacher Lee Hendrix.

Boles PTA leaders have already signed up more than two dozen parents for a planned March 12 rally in Austin. They hope other PTAs will follow their lead.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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