Stimulus funds running out; teacher jobs in jeopardy

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on January 26, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 27 at 3:41 AM

DALLAS — School districts across North Texas are bracing for a funding disaster as lawmakers in Austin consider making deep cuts to education.

The Dallas Independent School District is the second largest in the state, and — like many other districts — is facing a double hit.

"Absolutely this is a crisis," said Alliance/AFT teachers union president Rena Honea.

DISD leaders say a cut in state funding could force it to eliminate 1,000 jobs.

On top of that, two years ago, DISD received about $100 million in federal stimulus money. Using 30 percent of that money, the district added about 300 positions

Now, those 300 DISD teachers paid for with stimulus money will be getting pink slips in the coming weeks.

"That increases the number of people that will be leaving this district that will not be serving our kids,” Honea said.

Fort Worth got about $42 million in stimulus funds, using 38 percent of it to hire 160 employees. The district said it hopes to keep those people on staff.

Arlington got $24 million in stimulus money, adding 56 positions using 24 percent of the funds. Arlington ISD says those people knew their jobs would disappear, and were reminded about that at a meeting late last year.

It's a slightly different story in Richardson, which got about $14 million dollars in stimulus funds. The RISD added 25 teachers using 18 percent of those federal funds, the lowest percentage of the overall money among the big districts in North Texas.

Richardson ISD spokesman Tim Clark said spending money on equipment and training, instead of people, was a more responsible thing to do.

"We didn't want to incur something that would be more than a two-year cost for funds that we knew would expire in two years,” Clark said.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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