DISD Budget Preview: Magnet Schools Hit Hardest

By Susy Solis
|  Tuesday, Feb 22, 2011  |  Updated 8:39 PM CDT
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Susy Solis, NBCDFW.com

Townview Magnet Center fights to keep its teachers despite pending budget cuts.

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One of the nation's best schools could be the next victim of the state's massive budget cuts.

One of the six Dallas Independent School District magnet schools housed in the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center has been touted as one of the best schools in the country by Newsweek magazine.

But a preliminary report outlining DISD's worst-case scenario shows that the district's magnet schools face some of the highest reductions.

The district is facing a potential $253 million budget shortfall and is searching for ways to cut costs.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he is hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

"The budget deficit is our worst-case scenario," he said. "We presented our 1.0 version of the plan. Next month, we are going to present version 2.0."

The state faces a revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion, and the Legislature is expected to slash education funding.

Under DISD's plan, Townview Center would lose 119 or 140 full-time employee positions -- 80 percent of its staff.

The DISD did not say which positions or how many teaching positions would be eliminated.

But the number is shocking to parents such as Rhona Hutchison, whose four daughters have all graduated from or are attending DISD magnet schools.

"Part of the magnet's success is that they've maximized the ability to put a teacher in the classroom, as many teachers as possible," she said. "One of the key, one of the cornerstones, of the proposed budget cuts is taking those teachers out of the classroom."

Magnet schools are known for smaller class sizes, but budget cuts would force DISD to make bigger class sizes. The new plan would make class sizes the same through out the district, something parents aren't happy about.

"Anytime you get over 30 kids in a classroom -- I don't care where you are, that's too many for high school," said Katie King, whose son attends a magnet school in Townview Center.

Parents, teachers and administrators are meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Townview Center to discuss ways to fight the cuts.

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