Dollars and Sense
- Written by Cynthia Calvert
It doesn't seem that long ago when everyone in Humble ISD and in the entire state of Texas talked about the education funding crisis. From morning til night, that was the conversation du jour. Loads of taxpayers, district officials, experts, lawyers, lobbysists and even the legislators stewed in the juice of no money for kids. The conventional wisdom said “they” would do something because surely 'they” wouldn't allow our schools to close, to go bankrupt, to send our teachers home with no paychecks. The tax threshold loosened a bit, granting some breathing room but nevertheless, here we are, 24 or so months later, and Humble ISD is in a world of trouble. The budget is $12 million short and what to do? Don't look west as the do-nothings in the state capital are expert dodge-ball players. They have managed to duck, bob or weave whenever said issue is thrown their way. Guy Sconzo held a meeting with the district's management recently to paint the grim picture and toss out the even grimmer remedies. Cut expenses, borrow from “savings” and/or – raise taxes. The solution is made of all three. Most everyone loves Humble ISD – its great reputation contributes to desirable real estate values, creates successful businesses and of course, our kids are some of the brightest anywhere. We don't want to compromise on those things. We want our cake and to eat it too. Borrowing from the fund balance is a reasonable thing to do since it is a “rainy day fund.” That is why we have it – to ease the friction during times of stress. But cutting expenses has to be where the real action occurs. Searching for every possible place to cut should be the summer homework for each principal. The Humble ISD Education Foundation should plan next year's fundraising and grants with this situation in mind: things will be tight and items we are all used to enjoying are now luxuries. The school board has begun preliminary thinking about raising taxes. Taxpayers should support their efforts as they struggle to balance our budget. It is hard enough to do without criticism and finger pointing from the peanut gallery. We have a good and wise leader in Sconzo but even he can't spin straw into gold. The future of the district is up to us.