AUSTIN (APKXAN) - School superintendents from across the state have a message for lawmakers in Austin: Make education a priority.
They're meeting in Austin Monday to urge the Legislature not to make public schools bear the burden of a massive state revenue shortfall.
More than half of the school districts in Texas -- 529 -- have signed onto a resolution asking legislators to make public education the highest priority when addressing the state budget.
Educators are asking lawmakers to tap into the state's $9.4 billion dollar Rainy Day savings account.
"If there was ever a time to use surplus funds while the economy is improving now is the time to do so," said school finance expert Lynn Moak .
Educators say it's not just raining, it's storming in Texas and using some of the surplus can help in saving schools and saving jobs.
"We forecast 80 to 100 thousand jobs could be lost as a function of this and we think the rainy day fund could offset a good deal of that," said Moak.
Getting to the money is a hurdle with lots of red tape.
"The access won't be easy," said Moak. "It requires a two-thirds vote with the house and the senate to access the rainy day fund so there's a pretty specific protection built in."
There's that. Then there's the Governor's feeling that it's not rainy hard enough right now in Texas.
"I think we can balance our budget prioritize what's important, fund that with available revenue, and leave those dollars in the Rainy day fund where they are," said Governor Rick Perry.
Members of the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators hand-delivered 8,000 letters to lawmakers at the State Capitol Monday with the same message, make education a priority. Educators hope their gesture will change the minds of lawmakers making potentially billions in budget cuts.
"Education is a priority and as long as we can pull on the rope in the same direction I think we'll find the answer," said Representative Rob Eissler, chair of the House Committee on Education.
Districts said proposed reductions in school spending, coupled with an already troubled school funding system, presents them with crippling choices such as teacher layoffs and school closures.
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