East Texas schools join lawsuit over funding cuts - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas schools join lawsuit over funding cuts

VAN, TX (KLTV) - Many Texas schools have been outraged ever since state lawmakers cut $4 billion from public school funding. They did it in an effort to make up for the state's $27 billion budget shortfall.

And now a number of those school districts are taking the state to court, including some from East Texas.

"Probably all departments in the school have suffered as a result of that funding shortage, which makes it more difficult to do the things you'd like to do to afford kids opportunities," said Van High School Teacher Larry Wisdom.

Larry Wisdom has been teaching for 42 years-- 12 years at VISD.

With that experience you wouldn't think his job was actually getting harder.

"It's not possible to get personal or one-on-one with those kids because of the number of kids in that classroom," Wisdom said.

He said his wife teaches 254 students everyday. Over eight class periods, that averages out to more than 31 students per class.

Administrators said it's all an effect of significant budget cuts.

"Currently we're funded at a very low target revenue compared to the other 80% of schools in the state of Texas. As a result of that we just don't have the resources that many have," said VISD Superintendent Joddie Witte.

With the support of more than 150 Texas school districts, Van ISD and others are filing a lawsuit.

"It's about the inequity for tax payers, the inequity for students and I would add the inequity for teachers. Van ISD is a good example of that," Witte said.

Because of the cuts, the district is receiving $1.3 million less in funding, is freezing employees salaries for the next two years and cut has 39 employee positions district wide. Witte said the district has also reduced administrator salaries.

Those teachers who have kept their jobs despite state mandated budget cuts are still feeling the impact. At Van ISD some benefits have been cut and class periods that used to be for lesson planning are now another period of teaching.

"There has been an oversight and I think teachers are suffering, but I think the sad thing is that kids are suffering," said Wisdom.

Suffering because districts are struggling to do more with less.

Van Superintendent Witte said their district receives $2,500 less per student compared to other districts in the state. He said that all adds up to about $7.3 million dollars that other schools are getting and they aren't.

Other East Texas schools that have joined the lawsuit are Winona, Bullard and Chapel Hill.

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