School districts brace for cuts amid tight state budget

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:20 PM CST
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - The news that the state is nearly $1 billion in the red heading into the legislative session has some school districts worried.

“I think that there were specific things that were invested in in House Bill 3 that are really important like college, career and military readiness, seeing how those come to fruition is going to be really important to us,” Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith said.

“When you bring up that we’re a billion dollars short in the projected budget for the next year, obviously that’s concerning to me as a superintendent because I do think there were good investments that were made,” he said.

Smith told KWTX that he would like to see more flexibility in how districts can spend the money previously set aside by state lawmakers.

He brought up one program in particular, the Teacher Incentive Allotment.

That program, part of House Bill 3, gives raises to certain teachers whose students meet minimum STAAR Test scores.

“We’d like to have more flexibility in the era of a pandemic to be able to actually focus that money on kids and teachers rather than going through some hoops where we have to create a funding mechanism for teachers who meet specific STAAR scores,” Smith said.

Rather than investing in the Teacher Incentive Allotment, Smith said it could be more beneficial to invest in teacher readiness and other student outcomes.

However, he noted that the district is still gathering input from teachers and the community.

“We’re just at the exploration phase and our goal is to include teacher voices in this,” Smith said.

Other schools, like Harmony Science Academy in Waco have already begun giving teachers raises through this incentive allotment.

Harmony Public Schools did not immediately respond to KWTX’s request for comment.

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