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Matagorda teachers join rally in Austin

By adriana_acosta
March 12, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2011 at 9:12 p.m.

Rick Johnson, director of business technology at Bay City ISD, holds sign at rally on Saturday at the state Capitol.

AUSTIN - Linda Cartwright is concerned about the future of her students.

The Cherry Elementary School educator has been teaching for 27 years, 20 of those years at Bay City Independent School District.

"If they cut funding and get rid of teachers, the ratio of students per teachers will be high and the ones that will suffer are the students," she said.

Cartwright is also worried about her job.

"I am not ready to retire and they are trying to get rid of all the older teachers that are on the high end of the pay scale," she said.

Cartwright said that by cutting funds to schools, the state will save money but not education.

On Saturday, teachers and others rallied at the State Capitol in Austin in support of education funding. Matagorda County had the highest number of teachers at the rally among Crossroads county school districts.

The march and rally was organized by Save Texas Schools, a nonpartisan, all-volunteer coalition of people in support of education.

About 5,000 rallied at the Texas Capitol to protest education cuts, which are projected to be $10 billion. The cuts are part of the state's attempt to close an estimated $27 billion shortfall.

Buses carrying groups from across the state arrived in Austin early Saturday morning and marched from Waterloo Park to the south steps of the Capitol.

One of those groups attending were teachers from Bay City Independent School District.

"I am here because children are our future, and that's why I have dedicated my life to educating," said Keith Brown, superintendent for Bay City Independent School District.

"We want legislators to know that by cutting funding, this is going to have an effect in our children, and we want everyone to know that we support our kids," he said.

Expecting a $4.1 million shortfall, the Bay City district announced earlier this month it will offer more than $60,000 in cash incentives for early notice of resignation.

At their last meeting, trustees unanimously approved a resolution for the early notification/exit incentive plan. The incentive program is available for participation from Feb. 21 to March 21 and limited to the first 60 term or continuing employees who complete the paperwork.

Each employee participating will receive a lump sum incentive payment of $1,000.

Much of the anger at the rally was focused on Gov. Rick Perry, who has thus far rejected any proposal to raise state revenues or to tap the state's $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund.

Those in the rally showed up with umbrellas and signs in support of the Rainy Day Fund.

"This Rainy Day Fund will help fund the schools during these tough times," said Rick Johnson, director of business technology at Bay City ISD.

Some education groups are proposing the Legislature use $4 billion to help the shortage, he said.

"It is time to put education in the front burner, not the back burner," said Cartwright, as she cheered on with the crowed at the rally.

Besides wanting legislators to use the Rainy Day Fund, Save Texas Schools also urged state lawmakers to sign the paperwork for $830 million in federal aid for teachers, and fix school funding laws to be fair to all districts and the growing student's population.

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