AUSTIN (KXAN) —Discussions about possible schools closing and programs being cut continue in Pflugerville ISD as the district faces a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

On Thursday, students and parents protested outside the PFISD administration building prior to the district’s school board meeting. They were there to make sure the Kickstart Martial Arts program is not cut next year.

“Kickstart…Kickstart…Kickstart,” chanted students who were sporting their Kickstart martial arts uniforms.

”We are just really hoping we can keep this program,” said a parent at the protest.

The district pays Kickstart about $500,000 a year, but since the district is facing a $12 million budget deficit, they can no longer fund the program under the current contract.

“Kickstart pays no facilities fees, charges fees to parents, charges the district and requires a minimum student number guarantee that the district has to pay the difference if that minimum is not met, with no responsibilities themselves to recruit kids to their program. We would love to have them continue under more fair terms. We feel that it is really up to them to do the right thing and have a fair contract for a district that is currently in significant financial need.” – Pflugerville ISD Spokesperson

“We are talking about school closures, we are talking about other cuts to the district,” said PFISD Superintendent Dr. Douglas Killian

Killian said the state’s recapture system has caused problems for the district.

”With a 33 billion dollar budget surplus at the state level, why would a school district need to talk about cuts,” said Killian.

Killian said this year they will pay the state about $20 million in recapture funds.

”In 2019 they did a historic raise for us in the basic allotment and then inflation has eaten it all away,” he said.

Currently, the basic allotment per student is $6,160, but it has not changed since 2019.

Representative James Talarico said there is work being done by lawmakers to raise the allotment.

”To ensure that more districts are keeping more of their property tax revenue back home working for our local students, local families, local communities,” said Talarico.

PFISD is not the only district facing challenges from the current recapture system, he said.

”A lot of districts like Austin ISD, that have a lot of students living in poverty, have fallen into recapture and are now sending money to the state that they could really use back home,” Talarico said. “The best way to reform recapture is to ensure that more districts are keeping more of their money back home.”

Killian said he hopes to see parents reach out to lawmakers about the current issues.