San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 27th, 2012
Letter: Isaac, GOP budget cuts harmed local schools


State Rep. Jason Isaac claims he is in a tough race now because he publicly opposed a property tax increase in Dripping Springs that his opponent supported.

The truth is that Jason Isaac voted for cuts in public education and higher education locally and across Texas every chance he got. DSISD had one of the leanest, most efficient budgets in the state. They were given a five-star rating by the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) that measures academic progress and financial efficiency in Texas schools. So there wasn’t any “fat” in the budget to cut.

When Mr. Isaac and the Republican legislature cut funding so drastically last year, that resulted in cuts of over $5 million in the DSISD budget for school years 2011-12 and 2012-13. To restore funding in order to maintain the high standards of teaching — Newsweek ranked DS High School as one of the best in the nation — and student programs, a slight property tax increase was proposed. Mr. Isaac actively fought against it, phoning voters and telling them to vote against it, and it was defeated.

Consequently, 31 positions have been cut at DSISD. Programs have been cut or reduced. Parents have to pay for extracurricular activities. Teachers have to clean their own classrooms after school instead of spending that time counseling students (as reported in the New York Times). Nursing schedules have had to be modified. Bus transportation runs have been shortened.

Class sizes have increased. One parent recently told me that there are 35 students in her daughter’s math class. Many educators agree that adding just two students to an already full classroom can intensify the challenge for teachers. Some worry that increasing class sizes hurts the neediest students most. It also increases discipline problems in the classroom.

There’s surplus money in the Rainy Day Fund, which is gushing from all the Texas oil and gas profits. But Mr. Isaac and his Republican colleagues refuse to tap it to restore education funding. In fact, they’re thinking they will “invest” it. What could be a wiser investment than educating Texas children!? We shouldn’t be last in the nation in spending per student. We are not a poor state. The money is there. What isn’t there are elected officials who think education is a priority. They let right-wing ideology guide their decisions instead of thinking about the importance of education to improving our children’s future success, which is vital to improving our society and strengthening our state’s economic power.

That’s why I will be voting for John Adams for HD 45 and other candidates who will work to improve our schools and textbooks: John Courage for SD 25 (or Judith Zaffirini if you’re in SD 21), Rebecca Bell-Metereau for the State Board of Education, and Paul Sadler for U.S. Congress. They all are eminently qualified and passionate about defending education.

Dripping Springs

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