Categorized | J-Line Buzz, News

Bracing for budget shortfall

By Dakota Wasson/J-Line Writer ~

The threat of budget cuts, teacher layoffs and program whittling is looming over Atascocita High School. It’s present in the faces of teachers, on the minds of administrators and in the fears of students.

“You see it in the teachers lounge and in the atmosphere,” said AHS Principal Dania Rovegno. “They’re worried.”

The budget worries stem from a $27 billion state shortfall, which is expected to result in cuts to public school funding. Humble ISD anticipates a $31 million budget gap.

Superintendent Guy Sconzo has said that 580 administrative and teaching positions need to be cut district-wide. About 350 first-year teachers, including 32 at Atascocita High School, have already been told that their contracts may not be renewed. The Humble ISD school board is scheduled to vote on the non-renewals on March 29.

If vacancies open up in the district, the 350 teachers will be the first ones to be rehired, according to Rovegno. AHS will only hire back teachers who have resigned on their own or those who are part of the 32 contract non-renewals.

Even with the stress and worry of being laid off or knowing they might not come back, AHS teachers have remained professional in the classroom, said Rovegno. The teachers still have a job to do, and students still in front of them, she noted.

However, AHS Associate Principal Ted Landry admitted that the learning environment, along with the way teachers teach, may be affected.

“The effects of the possible loss of teachers depend on the teachers’ strategies and teaching and different ideas,” said Landry. “Hopefully the quality of learning won’t be affected.”

 A rally on March 12 drew thousands of teachers, students, and parents to Austin, where they demonstrated against education cuts and urged legislators to dip into the state’s $9.4 billion Rainy Day fund.

Rovegno said she has been assured by Sconzo that no elective department or extra curricular activity program will be eliminated entirely. The cuts depend on the number of students signing up for a class and the number of teachers available to teach that subject.

“We trust our students, that whatever situation or environment they’re put in they will do their best, and it’s the teachers’ job to hold and deliver the information,” Rovegno said.

Some classes, such as A.P. or dual credit classes, may have a larger number of students to accommodate everyone who signs up. Other classes may stay the same, with an average of 32 students, according to Landry and Rovegno.

“It’s going to be difficult, but we have great teachers and employees,” said Rovegno. “We work as a team and I am confident that our teachers will find a way to make it work.”

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