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Crossroads educators react to proposed multi-billion dollar education cuts

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Jan. 19, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 18, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.

Michael Novotny, Moulton school district superintendent

Proposed Texas budget cuts

$5 billion cut from public education

Four state community colleges will be closed

$772 million in cuts to Texas colleges and universities

Financial aid programs closed to new students

Does not pay for an estimated 160,000 new public school students expected to enroll over the next two years

Cuts to pre-kindergarten programs

9,600 state jobs will be eliminated over two years

14 percent cut in psychiatric and pharmacy care for inmates

Contribution to the state employee retirement fund reduced from 6.95 percent to 6 percent

Won't cut money on border security

Source: Associated Press

Educators in the Crossroads area are bracing for multi-billion dollar state budget cuts that affect their institutions.

On Tuesday, lawmakers got a quick look at proposed cuts that could make a $5 billion impact on public schools and $772 million on colleges and universities.

The cuts are expected to impact everything from pre-kindergarten, teacher salaries and the formulas all districts rely on for each student's funding.

"I hope for the best, but we also need to prepare for the worst," said Michael Novotny, Moulton school district superintendent.

Novotny said he will form a committee dedicated to looking at the best ways to make budget cuts.

In the Goliad school district, Superintendent Christy Paulsgrove is prepping for a reduced budget.

"We're looking at our budget with a 10 percent cut and seeing how that will affect us," she said.

In Cuero, Superintendent Henry Lind said the district will probably not purchase another bus next year and make staffing tighter.

"Teachers that retire or people that leave for whatever reason probably won't be replaced," he said.

For the University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College, the cuts mean less money for growth or special items.

"It's belt-tightening time and we knew that going in," said Don Smith, UHV interim president. "So, we'll tighten our best and get on with it."

The proposed budgets shows UHV will lose a $750,000 yearly fund given to small institutions and $357,500 to develop its Masters of Science nursing program.

The cut could reduce the Letting Education Achieve Dreams program, a project that helps first-generation students, by $162,000.

VC President Tom Butler said the cut is about 17 percent on average of the school's budget, and he hopes legislators will change the plan.

"To decrease the state's investment in its most valuable resource - a well educated and skilled population - at the time we need it most, will only hinder our return to prosperity," he wrote in a statement.

The budget will continue to be reworked until May. Many believe the first draft is too soon for drastic changes.

"This was draft No. 1 of the budget," said Dianne Boyett, Victoria school district communications specialist. "It is pure speculation on what that budget is going to look like when it actually comes out of the legislature at the end of May."

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