AUSTIN -- Today State Representative Dawnna Dukes (Austin) sent a letter to Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen voicing her concerns about the proposal to close nine schools, including Ortega Elementary and Pearce Middle School, as a result of the imminent loss of state funds for public education.
In the letter to Dr. Carstarphen, Rep. Dukes emphasized as resolutions are considered to remedy the current economic condition and budget concerns that "the interests of our children must remain in the forefront of every decision affecting their well-being and educational success". Representative Dukes went on to state, "Closing schools disrupts the education of our students and they cannot meet their full potential when the doors to their community school are closed." She also recognized the immediate reaction of thousands of parents and community leaders to the news of the proposed school closures. "Their protests demonstrate the immense impact this decision will have on our neighborhoods if these schools, the pillars of our community, are closed one by one. We must speak out because to not do so would only be a disservice to the legacy of our local schools and to students for generations to come."
The budget bill in the Texas House of Representatives includes a reduction in funding of $33 billion to pay for public schools across the state. This will force districts to make tough decisions, which could result in a substantial increase in class sizes, the elimination of pre-kindergarten, the termination of up to 100,000 teachers and school personnel, and consolidation and closure of schools. The many advancements the state has made to ensure students are prepared to excel in a global economy, including smaller class sizes, certified and better trained teachers, incorporating technology in the classrooms and early childhood instructional development, are now being stripped away to satisfy political agendas and uphold campaign rhetoric.
"The promise of the leadership to only consider spending cuts as an option to our dilemma, coupled with their refusal to examine much needed new revenue sources and the use of the $9.8 billion state's savings account, is not prudent. These short-sighted decisions will reverse any progress we've made in public education," Representatives Dukes added, "The strength of our economy directly depends on the state and local school districts providing the resources needed to ensure our students receive the first class education they deserve."