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Austin ISD Plans To Cut $30 Million In Vacancies Amid $60 Million Deficit

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The Austin Independent School District (AISD) is facing a potential $60 million deficit next year and plans to cut at least $30 million in expenses to minimize it.

The district said it would achieve its goal by eliminating vacant positions and reducing overtime and contract spending. The district is trying to keep the cuts at the administrative level and away from the classrooms as much as possible.

“With regards to positions, we’re concentrating on central office and operational positions. So we are trying to do our best to leave campuses untouched,” said Eduardo Ramos, the district’s chief financial officer.

The district spends 87% of its budget on employee compensation, so eliminating vacant administrative positions and reducing the size of contracts could alleviate some of the deficit.

“Now we are having to make some difficult choices because we have not received additional funding on a per student basis, not only in Austin but throughout the state of Texas, since 2019,” Ramos said.

Texas hasn’t increased per-pupil funding since 2019, despite having a $33 billion surplus. This session, lawmakers failed to pass an increase to the $6,160 per-pupil funding base rate, while Gov. Greg Abbott pushed for school vouchers that could further deplete public school funding. 

“When you factor in inflation and salary increases over the six-year period, that puts a huge strain on district budgets throughout the state,” Ramos said. “In order for every district to remain financially stable, we’re all having to cut.”

The district also has the option of asking voters to approve a tax rate increase that could generate an additional $44 million in revenue for the district. To do that, the board would have to approve that tax rate in August and place the measure on the November ballot.

“The possibility for tax ratification. This community, I firmly believe, believes so deeply in public education in these schools that they’ll find any way they can to support our schools, because our legislature is not,”  said Ken Zarifis, the president of Education Austin, a labor union for AISD employees.

AISD has a $52 million deficit for the current 2023-24 school year, but the district says it has managed to reduce the shortfall to about $31 million.





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