DISD luncheon recap: More details about the hows and whys

For those of you who can’t get enough DISD coverage, here’s some additional information from yesterday’s "state of the district" luncheon that featured school board president Jack Lowe and Supt. Michael Hinojosa. You can read the DMN version of what happened by clicking here and you can also read on and see what neighborhood resident Eric Horstman, who attended the luncheon, had to say about the event.

Here’s Eric’s version, excerpted from an email making the rounds among neighborhood residents:

To begin, he (Michael Hinojosa) said the board and administration took full responsibility and that they "own" this mistake, it happened on their watch. They have made it a top priority and are working overtime on a solution and to put measures in place so that it does not happen again. They listed the specific causes for what happened:

1. The average teacher salary that was plugged into all the budget formulas was $3,900 too low.  This may not seem like much, but multiplied by 11,000 positions, it is $42,900,000.
2. The formulas used historically for a long time to set campus ratios of campus administrative positions to enrollment #s were not followed. This has resulted in an AVERAGE excess of 1.5 positions per campus, multiplied by the 225 DISD campuses and that is approx. 338 positions that should not be in place.

Those were the "what", next they spoke about the "how" it happened:
1. The district was heavily involved in the 2007 audit for the better half of the year. When that audit was concluded, resources were focused on the 2008 budget, and the errors were discovered.
2. There were three separate, independent systems for tracking staffing, budget, and hires. They did not communicate with each other.
3. There were people of incompetence responsible for the tracking of this information and they no longer work for DISD.

Dr. Hinojosa then spoke specifically to what will happen:
1. Approx. 100 jobs will be cut in central administration
2. Campuses will be re-aligned with the historical formulas of staff to ACTUAL, not budget or projected enrollment ratios.
3. The 600 strategic hires that were made as a part of the Dallas Achieves program (and which have contributed to significant academic gains) will NOT be let go.
4. Performance pay program will remain in place. Those dollars come from grants, other sources, not operating budget.
5. 22:1 elementary ratios with only one section per grade level allowed to exceed that will remain in place, as will art, music, P.E., and all Federally required programs.
6. The fund balance may have to be dipped into in order to make up deficits. This will be repaid and built back up over 3 years.
7. Tracking systems will be consolidated to provide single source of data.
8. Options are being considered.

These were the points as presented "straight from the source". For those of you that know about school funding, you know it is very complicated and there are many restrictions, laws, regulations, etc. that govern it. For instance, you can’t raise taxes to cover this. You can’t use bond funds to cover this. Speaking of bond funds, the $1.35B bond that was passed in May has nothing to do with this, that program has not started yet. The previous bond program projects were ALL completed on time and on budget, and have nothing to do with this.


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