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AISD Says Budget Outlook Much Better

School district says tough decisions in 2011-12 will produce better outlook next school year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Arlington ISD's budget woes seem to be easing for the next school year. (Published Tuesday, May 29, 2012)

    The Arlington Independent School District is optimistic about its budget situation for the next school year, although a teachers group says it expects the situation to be tougher.

    Both agree that this year was challenging.

    "It was rough," said Steven Poole, United Educators Association deputy executive director. "A lot of schools cut budgets dramatically, and you saw an increase of class sizes."

    "This was definitely a tough year," AISD spokeswoman Amy Casas said. "We had a lot of staffing reductions last year as a result of the state budget cuts."

    Poole said expectations remained the same while staff was cut, adding increased pressure on teachers.

    "Ultimately, the students suffer," he said. "Their education is being impacted by the cuts and the pressure. But the teachers are also feeling a lot of the pressure. You're seeing a lot of burnout, a lot of turnover and a lot of retirements when people aren't necessarily ready to retire."

    Poole said he expects next year to be even tougher.

    "This year, the STAR exams didn't count towards accountability ratings, but next year they will, so the pressure is ramping up, and still schools are cutting their budgets," he said.

    But the school district is a bit more optimistic, crediting the tough measures it took at schools last year for a much brighter outlook next year.

    "Next year's outlook is definitely looking much better," Casas said. "We are right now in the preliminary phases of our budgeting process, but right now we're estimating a surplus."

    The district said it doesn't not expect much from the state level.

    "That's kind of become a reality -- that we're expecting additional cuts -- so that's something we're preparing for now," Casas said.

    But despite the lack of state assistance, AISD said it is hoping to bring back many support staff positions that had to be slashed last year.