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Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 10:17pm
EL PASO - It's very clear people in the community are worried about budget cuts facing local school districts. Today a student-organized talk on the future of public education drew hundreds of people from the community.
It was a packed house inside the Franklin High School gym on Saturday. Students, parents and educators came together with state leaders to talk about budget cuts facing state and local education.
Right now, public education statewide could be cut by 10-billion dollars. We're told that would be about 23-million in cuts for E.P.I.S.D..
"We identified almost six-billion dollars to put back into the budget, but that still leaves four-billion dollars of cuts out there," State Senator Jose Rodriguez said.
That's four-billion dollars' worth of cuts that could still be devastating, especially for E.P.I.S.D., a district that we're told has already outgrown its current budget and needs more money.
"We can't say we're just going to fund at current levels and forget about the fact we have another 175-thousand new students that need more teachers, that need more classrooms and more books. We got to pay for that too," Rodriguez said.
We're told E.P.I.S.D.'s budget is 86% personnel. That means people's jobs are the first to go. Board Trustee Patricia Hughes says they've already cut the jobs of some support people and custodians out of the budget. She says they're trying to avoid laying off classroom teachers.
Now it appears it's up to State Senators and Representatives to figure out how to ease the budget blow.
"I can't be telling the house what to do but, just my own personal view that I want to express is that, they need to work hard and I know they're doing that to identify resources to fully fund education," Rodriguez said.
State Representative Dee Margo said that's easier said than done.
"I did a town hall last week. On my right there were educators and teachers and on my left were people with disabilities both saying I need, I need, I need. We're trying to figure out how to make those choices and priorities. We got a lot of needs and not enough resources," he said.