This year the Texas Lege made massive cuts to public education. What are the effects here in San Antonio? According to Pascual Gonzalez, public information officer at Northside ISD, it's the same everywhere you look. "Statewide what you find is less teachers, less resources, more students. Everyone's class load increased because we aren't hiring." NISD, whose superintendent John Folks was named Texas Superintendent of the Year, wrestled with $61.2 million in cuts, resulting in approximately 1,000 positions being eliminated. Fortunately, most staff cuts at NISD were accomplished through attrition and by not making new hires. But suspending hiring impacts new teachers coming out of state colleges. After four years of preparation would-be teachers are rewarded with debts instead of jobs.
San Antonio ISD, in partnership with the Harlandale ISD has been fortunate in one respect — part of their cuts have been offset by a seven-year federal award of $27.1 million to fund college readiness. The GEAR UP program, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, provides support for this year's seventh graders all the way through their first college year. The grant will pay for a host of services, including college readiness coaches, academic support, test preparation, mentoring, parental engagement, and college visits. But though the dollar amount may seem large, it is only focused on a portion of all students at SAISD and Harlandale. "It's not a good year, and we don't expect the budget forecast to get better in the second half of the budget biennium," said Gonzalez. "Nor do we expect it to get better in the next budget cycle. It's going to be bad for public education here in Texas for some time."