Valley lawmaker speaks about education budget cuts

In an 88 to 63 vote, the Texas House of Representatives approved $4.3 billion in cuts in the formula funding a school district gets per child.

Another $1.3 billion in cuts were approved for special programs that include funds for drop-out prevention programs, teacher training and pre-kinder education.

Texas State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) said the Rio Grande Valley schools won TMt know what TMs going to hit them.

"Most districts will not be able to have early education and pre-kinder programs, Oliveira said. Those are the best things we have for children to get ready for school and hopefully avoid them dropping out. We lost funding for drop-out prevention programs."

Oliveira said he's concerned that school districts will have little choice but to eliminate more jobs, which will create even more problems throughout the Valley.

"The biggest employer in each and every town in the Valley is almost always the school district, and when you start cutting there, you affect the entre economy of the community, Oliveira said. That means less homes bought, less cars bought, less spending, and as well as more people on the unemployment roles."

The numbers show that the biggest school district in South Texas - Brownsville Independent School District will take the biggest cut in dollars, with nearly $18 million dropped from half-billion dollar budget next school year.

The Edinburg school district takes the next biggest cut with nearly $13 million dollars cut, followed by the La Joya school district with nearly $12 million in cuts.

"It takes us a step backwards, we should be investing in public education, Oliveira. These cuts to me, are unacceptable."

As far as percentages, the McAllen school district, will be the most affected with 5.5 percent taken out from their budget, followed by Los Fresnos and La Joya.

"We continue to make the gap bigger between the poor districts, which are almost all the districts in the Valley, and the wealthier districts."

Oliveira said what TMs happening is wrong.

"That's just not right, Oliveira said. That's discriminatory - it's not fair and these cuts could TMve been avoided."