Pine Tree Independent School District

HOUSTON, TX — A massive reduction in Houston ISD for the next school year seemed inevitable with a $115 million projected shortfall in the 2018-19 budget. On Thursday night, HISD approved a downsizing in force, and that could mean laying off as many as 700 faculty members in the district.

The HISD Board of Education voted to allow principals at schools to start issuing layoff notices to teachers as soon as March 19, which is the first day back from next week’s Spring Break.

Zeph Capo, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said it’s highly impossible to know the definite number of layoffs until the end of June, which is when the Board must have their budget finalized for the next school year.

Capo added that with so much uncertainty on a final tally, he hopes principals in the district don’t make rash decisions so quickly.

“They could start tomorrow issuing layoff notices,” Capo said Thursday night. “The ones that start issuing notices tomorrow will be a red flag for us that they’re the ones who don’t know what they’re doing. As a trustee said tonight, we really haven’t given the principals good data to understand what their budget is going to look like.”

“I’ve said to my parents that come to me to ask for meetings, it would be helpful if you could tell me where to cut, because there will not be a scenario where there aren’t any cuts,” said HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Capo told KHOU Thursday afternoon that he hopes the Board makes deep cuts in administration personnel to save some jobs in classroom instruction.

“Though there may be six (hundred) to 700 teachers laid off over the next month or two, we know that we routinely have to hire in the ballpark of 2,000 teachers a year due to regular resignations, retirements, and other reasons,” Capo told the CBS affiliate.

The HISD Board, which asked outgoing superintendent Richard Carranza to not attend Thursday’s meeting, didn’t give an update on its search for a new leader. The Board didn’t want Carranza there to distract from the other problems facing the district — like the budget shortfall and 10 underperforming schools threatened to be taken over by the state.

The board will meet on March 22 and could have news on the search for a new superintendent.

Photo of Lovett Elementary in the Meyerland area by Scott McDonald/Patch Houston Editor

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