Back in the spring, the Houston ISD cut nearly $100 million for the 2011-12 school year. The district made those cuts before state lawmakers finalized a two-year budget. The latest figures show HISD getting $18.5 million more than anticipated for the upcoming year. That means the district can restore almost a third of the per-student reductions it made, according to spokesman Jason Spencer.
"We made a promise at the time when we adopted the spending reduction that any additional money we had would go back to the schools. So we're following through on that promise."
The money can help schools cover one-time expenses, like updated computers or textbooks. But principals can't count on the money for the long term. Spencer says 'next' year, HISD will receive about $40 million less in state funding than it's getting 'this' year.
"As principals begin to spend this money, we're asking them to be mindful that it's one-time money. So they need to think long and hard about whether they use that money to hire personnel, knowing that we could be in the same situation we were earlier this year in having to lay off employees."
Some may question the wisdom of giving school principals money back this year, when next year's budget looks so bleak. Spencer says the district promised that it would restore whatever funding it could before it learned that state lawmakers decided to make the second year cuts deeper than the first.