HISD facing $208 mil shortfall

HISD facing $208 mil shortfall

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DEFENDER NEWS NETWORK — As HISD begins to prepare a budget for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year, the district is estimating a $208 million shortfall as result of the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey and recapture.

HISD has seen a decline in student enrollment and is planning for a further decline for the coming school year, which will mean a decrease in state funding. The district also anticipates the storm will have a significant impact on the city’s property values, which will be released in April 2018. HISD’s main source of funding is property tax dollars. To date, the district has received no indication of how much and when they’ll be reimbursed for Harvey-related expenditures.

These factors, combined with the district’s 2018-2019 recapture payment, is creating an estimated $208 million deficit and is requiring HISD to make difficult choices about how funds will be allocated at the school and district level for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

“While we may have made it through Hurricane Harvey, we are now firmly in the financial storm,” said HISD Superintendent of Schools Richard Carranza. “The financial struggles brought by Harvey, recapture, and school finance have put us in a difficult position, but it is our duty to proceed thoughtfully about the resources, materials, and staffing we need to ensure we meet our goals of educating the whole child and providing all students with the essential services they need to be successful.”

Utilizing an equity lens, the district has reviewed its current funding model and is proposing a shift for the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, schools receive funding through a Per Unit Allocation (PUA), which allocates dollars per student and allows principals to decide how those dollars are used on their campus. Under the proposed staffing model, or Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) model, principals will still decide whom they will hire, but the district will ensure that every school has essential positions such as a nurse, counselor, and librarian. Schools would be assigned positions rather than dollars based on the number of students they serve.

A Principal’s Advisory Committee has been assembled to assist with the process of creating the district FTE model in a way that meets the needs of all schools. The committee includes representatives from all trustee districts, school levels, and types of schools. The committee has, and will continue to meet, regularly with the HISD budgeting department to offer their feedback, which will be included in all budget presentations made to HISD Board of Education.

In addition to the proposed FTE school budgeting model, all HISD departments are being asked to make cuts for the coming school year totaling $116 million, which is 56% of the $208 million deficit.

HISD Board of Education members will review a draft budget proposal, which includes recommendations from the Principals Advisory committee and proposed department cuts, at a workshop on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. in the Manuel Rodriguez Board Auditorium located at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th St. 77092.

Future board workshops and community meetings will be held over the coming weeks and months to review changes and updates to the proposed budget. By law, the HISD Board of Education must approve a budget by June 30, 2018.

The board workshop will be broadcast live online at www.hisdtv.org and

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Study: Positive feelings about Blackness improve academics for Black girls

Study: Positive feelings about Blackness improve academics for Black girls

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By Defender News Service

DEFENDER NEWS NETWORK — Believing that “black is beautiful,” an important mantra of self-acceptance and self-love, could pay major dividends in school, a new study finds.

An article in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education focuses on a new study from Sheretta Butler-Barnes, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, which finds that young black women with “strong racial identity” are more likely to be academically engaged, curious and persistent.

The survey looked at 733 black middle and high school girls in “three socio-economically school districts in the Midwest,” according to the JBHE.

The study, “Promoting Resilience Among African American Girls: Racial Identity as a Protective Factor,” was published on the Child Development journal website and found that feeling positive about being black, along with feeling supported by their schools, correlated with the girls’ greater academic motivation.

Researchers also found that feeling good about your racial identity could act as a buffer for students in “hostile or negative” academic environments.

“Persons of color who have unhealthy racial identity beliefs tend to perform lower in school and have more symptoms of depression,” Butler-Barnes noted.

“We found that feeling positive about being Black, and feeling support and belonging at school, may be especially important for African-American girls’ classroom engagement and curiosity,” Butler-Barnes added. “Feeling connected to the school may also work together with racial identity attitudes to improve academic outcomes.”

That study’s findings appear to support another recent study, from the University of Washington, which found that cultivating pride in black culture and identity led one group of girls at a Seattle-area middle school to express greater confidence. More than that, both the girls and their teachers reported a stronger connection to their school and greater involvement.

As the University of Washington website notes, the participants in the study took a 12-week course that combined mindfulness teachings with a cultural-enrichment curriculum. Not only did the girls identify more strongly with their black heritage, but their positive feelings toward other black people also increased significantly.

This cultural pride translated to stronger “humanist” beliefs among the girls—“a belief that they fit in with people of all races, that their racial heritage has value in society and that their race should not exclude them from being part of the larger community,”according to the UW website.

The study’s author, Janine Jones, who heads UW’s psychology program, notes that “there are a lot of girls who check out in school when they feel like they’re not seen, not understood or invested in by school personnel. There are a lot of negative perceptions of African-Americans, and the perception they receive is that it’s not a good thing to be black.”

Jones continued: “We may think it’s easier to avoid it than to address it. But if we start addressing oppression by countering it with the humanness of who these kids are, we’re more likely to keep them engaged and feeling a sense of belonging.”

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