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  • Writer's pictureSave SBISD

SBISD faces severe budget cuts absent legislative action

Editors Note: We have been contacted by a representative of Spring Branch Independent School District and asked to share this information with our readership. Upon review, the membership of Save SBISD unanimously agreed this was an important use of our reach. The information contained here is from the District, and has not been independently verified by Save SBISD.

Earlier this afternoon, SBISD Superintendent Jennifer Blaine, Board President Chris Earnest, and Vice-President Lisa Alpe sent the attached letter to members of the SBISD community.

The letter paints a "dire" picture of the financial solvency for SBISD in 2024.

SBISD leadership lays the responsibility for this impending solvency crisis at the feet of statewide elected officials, saying "...our elected officials have made it clear they neither value nor care about public education, or the students, families and communities we serve."

The district goes on to describe the Legislature's proposed, trivial increases to education funding as "insulting", and adds "public school districts like SBISD are being set up to fail".

According to a recent Facebook post by SBISD Trustee Lisa Alpe, the issue stems from inaction by the State to give the district relief from a confiscatory $88,000,000 payment from the district to the State known as a "recapture" payment. This loss of local funds to the State will cause the district to incur a deficit of $50,000,000 according to Ms. Alpe's Facebook post. The district describes this deficit as "disastrous".

In order to close that gap, the district lists in its letter the following measures it must consider to balance the budget:

  • Combine schools/change boundaries

  • Change staffing models, including class sizes

  • Eliminate 10-20% of SBISD staff

  • Remove the 20% local optional homestead exemption

  • Discontinue the block schedule model for Stratford High School

  • Reduce programming and/or institute pay-to-play models for athletics, performing and visual arts

  • Discontinue choice and specialized programs

  • Cut safety and security, counseling and mental health services

  • Cut centralized instructional supports, including but not limited to, interventions, Dyslexia services, and college and career counseling

  • Cut business and operations functions that support the district’s safety, security and fiscal management

  • Raise the tax rate

We do not believe we are editorializing when we describe these forced measures as cripplingly extreme for a high-quality school district like SBISD.

Save SBISD reached out to Mr. Earnest and Ms. Alpe for additional comment on the looming financial crisis.

President Earnest responded, "We have tried to plead with our legislators and none seem willing to be our champion in Austin. Recapture is literally crippling our district. Payment of... up to $87,000,000 due next year creates a scenario where we have a shortfall of $50,000,000."

President Earnest added "We owe it to our students to do everything we can to fight for that money. Even if it means possible legal action against the state or what was once unthinkable - refusing to pay and daring the state to “come and take” our money. It’s come to that."

Vice-President Lisa Alpe commented:

“I am deeply concerned about recapture’s effect on our district in the coming school year. We are looking at having to cut $50 million from our budget which will potentially affect not only the quality of instruction our students receive but also the safety and security of our children."

Ms. Alpe went on to say, "SBISD is a very unique district- one of only two in the entire state of Texas that are subject to the injustice of the enormous recapture payment, but also having 59% of our student population that is socio-economically disadvantaged. The plain facts are that these students cost more to educate as they face different learning needs. Unfortunately, our plight has fallen on deaf ears in Austin."

Ms. Alpe closed her comment with a call to action, saying "Our community needs to mobilize immediately. Gov. Abbott, everyone on the Public Education Committee and our local representatives need to hear from us every single day until they provide a fair solution. If they do not, SBISD will be looking at all of our legal options. I will never stop fighting for the children of this community.”

The letter closes by asking SBISD stakeholders to contact their elected officials in Austin, to help the district receive some relief. It lists contact information as:

State Senators representing SBISD

  1. Paul Bettencourt, Texas Senator @TeamBettencourt 512-463-0107

  2. Joan Huffman, Texas Senator @joanhuffman 512-463-0117

  3. John Whitmire, Texas Senator @whitmire_john 512-463-0115

House Representatives representing SBISD

  1. Mano DeAyala, Texas State Rep. @manoforstaterep 512-463-0514

  2. Lacey Hull, Texas State Rep. @laceyhulltx 512-463-0727

  3. Penny Shaw, Texas State Rep. @reppennymshaw 512-463-0620

  1. Brandon Creighton, Chair 512-463-0104

  2. Donna Campbell, Vice-Chair 512-463-0125

  3. Paul Bettencourt, Member 512-463-0107

  4. Brian Birdwell, Member 512-463-0122

  5. Pete Flores, Member 512-463-0124

  6. Phil King, Member 512-463-0110

  7. Morgan LaMantia, Member 512-463-0127

  8. José Menéndez, Member 512-463-0126

  9. Mayes Middleton, Member 512-463-0111

  10. Tan Parker, Member 512-463-0112

  11. Angela Paxton, Member 512-463-0108

  12. Drew Springer, Member 512-463-0130

  13. Royce West, Member 512-463-0123

  1. Brad Buckley, Chair 512-463-0684

  2. Alma Allen, Vice-Chair 512-463-0744

  3. Steve Allison 512-463-0686

  4. Charles Cunningham 512-463-0520

  5. Harold Dutton 512-463-0510

  6. Cody Harris 512-463-0730

  7. Brian Harrison 512-463-0516

  8. Cole Hefner 512-463-0271

  9. Gina Hinojosa 512-463-0668

  10. Ken King 512-463-0736

  11. Oscar Longoria 512-463-0645

  12. Matt Schaefer 512-463-0584

  13. James Talarico 512-463-0821

A copy of the letter is attached below.


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