Is Townview Magnet Center being targeted for cuts?




Posted on February 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 21 at 7:19 PM

DALLAS — School officials across North Texas are bracing for the largest cuts to public education since World War II.

Targets of the estimated $5 billion budget shortfall include teachers, staff, programs — even entire schools.

Now there is concern that even the best public school in the nation won't be spared.

Townview Magnet Center has been ranked No. 1 in a Newsweek magazine survey in four of the last five years.

That imminent danger has led to a new grass roots movement to save the school.

As head of a young family, David Lee has plenty of worries.

The newest concern for this Dallas teacher is whether he soon be unemployed.

"We purchased our home two years ago; I'm a new father," he said. "There's no way to know whether I'll have a job next year."

The Dallas Independent School District — like most across Texas — is facing huge cuts in state funding. The DISD alone is considering the elimination of nearly 4,000 jobs.

Lee, a history teacher at Townview Magnet Center worries that the school for high-achieving students could lose most of its staff.

"Some of us feel like Townview has a giant target on it," he said.

So Lee is leading a fight to save his job — and his school.

He launched a Facebook page and is planning a community meeting this week.

Across Texas, educators, parents and students are now going on the offensive.

The Arlington ISD, facing the possibility of hundreds of layoffs, offers tips on its Web site on how to meet with lawmakers.

Over the weekend, the Allen Independent School District announced they plan to cut $3.5 million, which could total 50 teaching and administrative jobs.

And then you have the parents from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas who stormed the ribbon-cutting of a local representative's new office this weekend.

"I keep on getting the feeling they all want us to meekly accept that there is going to be cuts," said Woodrow Wilson parent Susan Schuerger.

Lawmakers haven't made any firm decisions yet, but parents and advocates want to mold the conversation of what can be cut — and how.

"Everything the state funds is going to have some cuts," said Rep. Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas). "We just need to make sure we are doing these cuts with a scalpel rather than an ax."

Who gets that ax is precisely what troubles so many, like David Lee.

"We're going to do everything that we can to save our school," he said.

Townview's parents and teachers will meet on Tuesday as lawmakers get ready to start tackling how to handle the massive money shortfall.