Denton ISD girds for big cutbacks




Posted on January 29, 2011 at 10:56 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 30 at 7:12 PM

DENTON — The State of Texas has to cut at least $10 billion from its budget, and the shortfall is starting to hit local school districts hard.

Dallas ISD is already talking about cuts in programs and personnel.

The problem is so serious that the Denton ISD changed the agenda at its annual meeting on Saturday.

The Board of Trustees spent more than six hours discussing policies and procedures to reduce staff.

Dr. Jim Alexander, the board president, told News 8 that the district is anticipating a $10 to $15 million cut in state funding, but he said Denton schools are already preparing for what could possibly be an even bigger hit.

"It is a very stressful time for them because none of us knows how deep those cuts will have to be," he said.

Alexander worries that the cuts that will become necessary will be devastating. "Initially, we felt that we could probably make all of the adjustments by simply putting in a hiring freeze and not hiring any new teachers," he said.

But that might not be enough.

Like other area districts, the Denton ISD is now looking at the possibility of letting go of some of its teachers and staff.

"We might have to cut as much as maybe $40 million," Alexander said — that's more than 20 percent of the district's planned $190 million budget.

The Denton ISD hasn't decided how many of its more than 3,000 employees could be affected, but first in line would be new teachers.

"That's a very grave concern to us because we have worked hard to recruit and develop and pull together a really wonderful staff," Alexander said.

He added that the board's goal is to come up with a plan as soon as possible.