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31 Days, 31 Ways: Thousands of Texas Teachers Losing Jobs

DAY 1 of our 31-day series on the effects of new state laws and budget cuts: Thousands of Texas teachers will not have jobs to return to in the fall, the result of a school finance plan that cut $4 billion from districts statewide.

Bryan McClintock, a special education teacher from Frisco, worked in the Little Elm School District until he was laid off last spring. The Texas Legislature slashed public education funding by $4 billion during the 2011 special session, leading districts statewide to cut down on personnel costs.

31 Days 31 Ways

Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune will feature 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out our story calendar here

DAY 1: Thousands of Texas teachers will not have jobs to return to in the fall.

Just a month before the end of the school year, Bryan McClintock, a special education teacher with the Little Elm Independent School District, was told that his contract would not be renewed in the fall. McClintock had anticipated he might be laid off because he has only taught for two years. He saw the writing on the wall during the special legislative session, when lawmakers passed a school finance plan that cut $4 billion from districts statewide.

Though legislators encouraged administrators to keep as much money as possible in classrooms, the majority of public education dollars are spent on personnel — meaning job cuts can't be avoided. During the legislative session, The Associated Press reported that up to 100,000 of the state's 330,000 teachers might lose their positions. Officials at the Texas State Teachers Association estimate that about 12,000 teachers have lost their jobs so far, and they warn more teachers could be laid off in the second year of budget cuts. The Austin Independent School District has already given pink slips to nearly 500 employees.

Not all districts have been forced to cut staff. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD spokeswoman Kelli Durham says her district has managed to maintain current teaching positions through retirement and attrition, and by opting to leave more than 400 positions vacant. Since the Legislature went into overtime last session, some districts (like this one in Katy) have figured their cuts will not be as severe as anticipated, and they are re-hiring some laid off teachers.

For McClintock, interviewed via Skype, losing his job has meant big changes for his family, especially for his 3-year-old twins. 

Web Resources for Laid-Off Teachers: 

The Texas Workforce Commission

Texas Classroom Teachers Association

Texas State Teachers Association

Texas American Federation of Teachers

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