DeSoto ISD fails to vote on district budget cuts

The DeSoto ISD school board did not vote on Monday on layoffs and cutbacks to keep the district from running out of money.

The current board blames previous administrations for a budget mess that ultimately falls on teachers, parents and students.

The Monday board meeting was to decide about the teacher layoffs, but some think the district should be cutting from the top first.

Judith Wright, the mother of a pre-schooler, likes that DeSoto ISD has small class sizes. On average, the teacher-student ratio is 14 to 1. But after Monday’s vote, the ratio could change in elementary schools to 24 to 1 and 33 to 1 at DeSoto High School.

Now, Wright is having second thoughts about where to send her daughter for kindergarten.

“Our school district is almost the heart of DeSoto. People move to DeSoto for the school district,” she said. “It’s ironic that’s the same reason why people might be moving out.”

Laying off 166 teachers would save the district roughly $8.5 million. That’s well more than what’s needed to make up a $3 million shortfall that the district says was due to mismanagement.

The district says the layoffs are a move to “right size” the district after a 400 student drop in enrollment.

Wright is worried that if larger class sizes prompt parents like her to leave the district, the district’s financial problems will only get worse.

“It would be a sad day when DeSoto loses its heartbeat, which are its schools,” she said.

The district is making cuts to other areas, too.

It is temporarily closing Northside Elementary School for several years and cutting 75 district employees. The combined cuts will save the district $20 million, which will provide the district with its highest fund balance.