HISD Promises Savings From Uniform School Bells

Public hearings continue on plans by the Houston Independent School District to tackle a multi-million dollar deficit. One that is getting attention is the district's plan to streamline the bell schedule.

The plan to implement a uniform schedule across the HISD’s 279 campuses, would free up $1.2 million  as the district is trying to find ways to cover a $34 million deficit.

Sharon Eaves is general manager of budget and finance for HISD:

“This past legislative session was the first time in 60 years that they have actually cut funding to school districts, and what that amounted to was in total, about $5.3 billion – 5.4. So it was kind of a strange legislative session for school finance.”

But the bell change would add an extra 19 minutes in the classroom, and that would add up to 7 more days of instruction time over the course of the year. Parents like Theresa Bosely wanted Eaves to explain to her why increasing instructional time for students would save money.

Theresa Bosley
Parent Theresa Bosley seeking an explanation to HISD’s plans

“How are you trying to save $1.2 million by increasing the length of the school day for 279 schools, 27, 000 employees? You have air conditioning, you have operations, you guys know, you’re not gonna save one dime. Let me just ask you this something: how much does it take to operate HISD for just one week?”

Eaves: “I don’t have a week. I could tell you its about $130 million a month.”

Bosley: “And on gas and then, can you show me the new proposal, because we all know that’s not gonna happen.”

HISD schools currently have about 20 different start and end times. Another parent, Shari Altman offered her take on what the district was trying to do.

“I still think you can get the cut, and your times would still be the same as if a person who started at 7:30 and instead of them getting out a 3:00, they get out at 2:30 time, and your scheduling will still be exactly the same, it won’t make any difference. So I think, if you took the 30 minutes out of there, you could gt your budget cuts, and it wouldn’t hurt their bottom lines of the elemtary schools.”

Eric Taylor with HISD’s Transportation Services told the group these hearings serve a purpose.

“We were asked to find a large amount of money out of our budget, without affecting services. This was the plan that we came up with. The reason we’re here is, as you stated, it affects everybody. So in order for us to say, ‘Is this something you want to do?’ We have to ask you all that question. That’s why we’re here and so that’s the feedback that we’re looking for.”

More public hearings are planned before a decision is made by the school board at its May 17th meeting.


Tomorrow’s meeting:

April 10 (Tuesday) – 6-7 p.m.

  • Wheatley HS (4801 Providence)
  • Worthing HS (9215 Scott)
  • Yates HS (3703 Sampson)