As required, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has submitted a legislative appropriations request that cuts 10 percent or $260 million from the agency’s 2012-2013 budget request. The proposal is now available online at http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/lar/.
Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott wrote in his statement regarding the recommendations in the TEA’s 2012-2013 Legislative Appropriations Request that the agency tried to limit the impact of the reductions. They first proposed to eliminate programs that were not viewed as related to the agency’s core mission, do not have significant statewide impact, or were identified as having the ability to be funded through other school district funding sources. Those programs included AVANCE, Texas Humanities, Steroid Testing, Extended Year Programs, Rural School Technology, and Science Labs. Additionally, the agency proposed a reduction to the Texas High School Completion and Success Initiative to eliminate duplicative programs and allow districts to use one funding source to support multiple research-based dropout prevention strategies.
Scott further states the agency then considered where cuts to essential programs might be made with the least consequence to student achievement. Textbook and Instructional Materials were reduced, but, Scott argued, the remaining funding will provide adequate resources to support continuing contracts. For the upcoming biennium, it is also expected that TEA will see a full $1.2 billion disbursement from the Permanent School Fund, which could support future contracts. Scott did point out that full funding of approved proclamations would require an additional $495 million beyond what is included in 2012-2013 appropriations request.
Other key reductions:
· Reduction to D.A.T.E. largely represents those funds that are returned to the agency each biennium when educators fail to meet performance goals or district participation fluctuates.
· Reduction to the SSI rider mostly comes from cost savings related to online delivery of professional development and elimination of some smaller programs. The online platform, Project Share, which debuted last year, will be fully deployed beginning in 2010-11. Through Project Share, more teachers will have access to high-quality training provided more economically and sustained through online professional learning communities.
· Elimination of a one-time college readiness pilot program that was implemented during the 2010-11 biennium. No funds that support direct interventions for struggling students were eliminated from the rider.
· Elimination of Teacher Mentor Program. (D.A.T.E funding and other local funds still available)
· Elimination of the Texas Principal Excellence Program (formerly the School Leadership Pilot Program) since statutory authority to implement has expired.
· Reduction of $15 million to the agency administrative budget and small reductions to the following programs: Funding for Education Service Centers, Technology Allotment, and Communities In Schools.