Texas’ “most progressive” school district—Austin ISD—continues to be a shining example of all that’s wrong in public education.

To start, it was recently revealed that AISD is likely facing a $60 million budget deficit for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. But rather than reduce spending to close the gap, district officials appeared content “to [only] reduce and cut expenditures by $30 million.” Elaborating on the half-measure here, the district’s Chief Financial Officer explained: “The $30 million in cuts does not get us to a balanced budget. But it gets us closer to where we feel comfortable as far as having to use some of our fund balance, our savings.” So rather than address the problem in full, the district’s plan is to cut some and use one-time monies to bridge the remaining gap, which invites its own set of problems over the long-term. But that’s not all.

See, the $30 million that the district says it’s cutting includes a bit of gimmickry. Here’s how KUT explains things: “Austin ISD’s plan to cut its spending by $30 million include slashing spending on contracts with outside vendors by $14 million and reducing overtime by 30%. The proposal also includes a plan to cut 42 positions from the district’s central office. 30 of those positions are vacant.” At face value, the cuts to contracting and overtime are a positive development, even if it’s questionable why a district of AISD’s size needs either. However, the elimination of 30 unfilled “ghost” positions can hardly be called a real reduction since those positions only existed on paper. Further, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the other 12 positions eliminated were the result of attrition and retirement.

But all of this dodging and downsizing may not even come to fruition because AISD is right now considering pestering voters with a big tax increase. On Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that: “Under the current consideration, the Austin district, which has a tax rate of 85.95 cents per $100 of property valuation, is proposing to ask voters to authorize a tax rate of 92.87 cents per $100 of property valuation…If voters approve the higher tax rate, the school district could collect an additional $44 million for its $956 million budget, district officials said.” The timing of this tax hike couldn’t be worse given that almost everyone today is struggling to afford the cost of gas, groceries, and rent. But no matter, trustees seem insistent on exploring the idea with a possible target election date of November 2024.

Now, it might be one thing if the district’s tax-and-spend mentality was in service of a robust and growing student population, but it’s not. In fact, the district is very much in decline.

As Community Impact explains:

“…transfer data from the Texas Education Agency shows 22% of AISD families left the district in the 2022-23 school year.”

Let’s not gloss over that statistic. Somehow, AISD managed to scare away more than 20% of its ‘customer’ base in a single year. And it did so even while the very community it serves was the 2ndfastest-growing large metro area in the country” between 2022 and 2023. That is a remarkable and telling feat.

Of course, the district is well-acquainted with student population loss. It’s been happening for quite some time, as many have observed. “Enrollment at the Austin district has steadily gone down over the last 10 years, even though the total number of children in Austin has seen increases in recent years.

All of which raises some interesting questions, like, for example, what’s going on here? How can the district justify its massive budget and even suggest a tax increase at a time of profound enrollment decline? And perhaps more importantly, why do parents and students continue to flee AISD year-after-year?

To the last question at least, there may be a partial answer. Parents and students are fleeing because kids aren’t being educated; they’re being indoctrinated.

Case-in-point: AISD students at McCallum high school were allowed to “walk-out during a pro-Palestinian protest” and were even provided with AISD police support.

It’s no wonder why parents are pulling their kids from the district and going elsewhere. And it’s no wonder why the district is fighting so hard for every tax dollar—because it’s not about education. It’s about indoctrination.

Source: Austin American-Statesman