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As Summer Begins, Eanes ISD Starts Reducing Staff to Fill In Budget Gap

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

In light of an expected $3 million budget gap next year, Eanes Independent School District has started making preliminary cuts to staffing positions, but district leaders are still unclear exactly how much money they’ll be working with when school starts in August, or whether those cuts will be permanent. 

Now that the legislative session is over and there wasn't a major school finance overhaul, the school district knows how much money it’ll get from the state next year. The problem is that the district is unclear on exactly how much it will receive from the assessed valuation of property in the district boundary.

District leaders won’t know how much they’ll get until late August, when school is about to start.

“It’s hard. It’d be nice if all the variables were in place prior to making all our staffing," says EanesISD Superintendent Tom Leonard. In the meantime, he says the district must plan conservatively. It’s planning to save some money by reducing staff positions — more than 30 positions overall.

Most of the positions — teachers, teaching assistants and aides, and classified positions, like custodial or maintenance — have already been eliminated through attrition, but about a half dozen employees have been laid off.

“If our recapture rate wasn’t as high as it is, had the legislature allocated more money toward public schools, some of those conversations likely would not have happened," Leonard says, adding that the district could end up re-hiring some of those teachers.

He says the district does know that more than half of all the money collected from property taxes will go back to the state, though the Supreme Court of Texas is considering whether that funding system is constitutional. Districts like Eanes that sued the state over school finance are hoping for a decision in their favor.

The court is expected to rule sometime next year.

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