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Dallas Students Rally: "Keep Our Teachers"

By Ellen Goldberg
|  Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011  |  Updated 12:32 AM CDT
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<a title=North Dallas High School seniors hold a vigil in support of their teachers, whose jobs are threatened by budget cuts." />

Ellen Goldberg, NBCDFW.com

North Dallas High School seniors hold a vigil in support of their teachers, whose jobs are threatened by budget cuts.

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North Dallas High School seniors held a vigil Tuesday night in support of their teachers, whose jobs may be at risk because of budget cuts.

On the steps of their high school, the students chanted “keep our teachers."

“You can move the students, but don't touch our teachers," senior Diron Weaver said.

The Dallas Independent School District, like other districts across Texas, face trimming millions of dollars from next year's budget because of a state revenue shortfall.

The cuts could mean the elimination of hundreds of teaching jobs.

“I hope I have a job; I have no idea,” said AP English teacher Glenda Chatham. “We just come every day, and we do the best we can for the kids."

The students said they hoped to make a public case for teachers faced with layoffs.

After the protest, George Clayton, a state Board of Education member, called on legislators and the governor to use reserve funds to spare teachers’ jobs.

”It bodes poorly for education in Texas and doesn't speak highly for state officials who are refusing to dip into the Rainy Day Fund,” he said. “We need it, and we need it today."

But some fiscal conservatives, including Gov. Rick Perry, have resisted using the state's reserve funds.

Perry said Tuesday in a Dallas appearance that the Legislature should avoid dipping into the $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund but declined to say if he would veto any measures that did so.

When asked about the prospect the budget crisis could lead to teacher layoffs, Perry said local school districts should manage their personnel without interference from Austin.

He has previously suggested that the state require school districts to use their reserve funds before tapping the Rainy Day Fund.

The Dallas school district could lose about $150 million dollars next school year.

The state faces a revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion, and the Legislature is expected to slash education funding. Budget proposals so far would leave the state's schools almost $10 billion short of what current funding formulas require.

But teachers say that seeing a show of support from students is priceless.

“We are the luckiest teachers to have kids out here fighting for us when they could be at home,” Chatham said. “I’m proud to be a North Dallas Bulldog."

The DISD school board will discuss declaring a financial state of emergency on Thursday night. It is a prerequisite to laying off teachers who are currently under contract.

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