Parents, students pack DeSoto ISD for town hall meeting amid budget cuts

Parents and students packed into DeSoto ISD's administrative building for a town hall Thursday on planned budget cuts. More than 200 jobs are on the line.

The district says they know the cuts aren’t ideal, but they don’t have a choice. And if they do not make a decision on these cuts, they will be insolvent by the end of June.

It was a packed room at DeSoto ISD Thursday. Teachers, parents and students showed up looking for answers from the district and concerned that large budget cuts mean an abrupt change for their families.

“I’m really upset about the changes I see,” said parent Amed Muhamed Clinton. “A lot of good teachers are being affected by it.”

District staff detailed the deep deficit. The district says say declining enrollment, overstaffing and a lack of district checks and balances are to blame. District staff funneled the crowd’s concerns through comment cards.

But overall, teacher Leticia Robles Bolanos wasn’t too pleased with their responses. The bilingual teacher has been teaching in DeSoto since 2013.

“I’m not sure they are being honest with us,” she said. “How can they let go of so many bilingual teachers when our bilingual population has increased.”

The cuts include closing Northside Elementary School for several years, implementing “more efficient ways to operate at the central office,” cutting 166 teacher positions and around another 75 district employees.

District staff also took the opportunity to shoot down several rumors they call incorrect, saying they are not cutting middle school athletics, but they are asking coaches to primarily serve as teachers. 

The district guaranteed that class sizes would not be 35 to 1, but instead adjusted based on the grade level. But those numbers don’t make sense to Clinton, a father of three.

“My concern would be what system is in place that’s going to give teachers the training they need to give teachers support,” Clinton said. “When you increase classes like that, you are expecting to have problems.”

After receiving his letter on the possible layoff from the district, Mitchell Galloway, a math and science teacher, says he’s not sure what the future holds.

“It’s not a money situation for me,” he said. “It’s for me being a positive impact in the community in which I live.”

The district will make an official vote next Monday.