Austin ISD is facing a $51.4 million funding shortfall that could lead to hundreds of layoffs as a result of decreased enrollment amid the pandemic.
Two weeks into the school year, AISD's enrollment was 5,119 students fewer than it was at the same point last year, Chief Business Officer Larry Throm told the AISD board of trustees.
Because state funding is based on average daily attendance, this could have a serious impact on the district's finances.
Each student enrolled at AISD earns the district about $10,040 a year, Throm said. At that rate, the current enrollment will lead to a $51.4 million shortfall in the amount of state funding AISD receives.
To make up for this, Throm said the district will have to consider laying off as many as 232 teachers—which would lead to about $30 million in savings—as well as cutting costs elsewhere.
"We cannot save our way by letting teachers go," he said.
Throm holds out hope that enrollment number may increase in the next two weeks, as AISD reopens for limited in-person learning.
"We don't want to alarm anybody," he said. "These are facts."
AISD is not alone in reporting a declining enrollment.
"Our surrounding school districts as well as school districts throughout the United States and in Texas are in fact experiencing some concerns with enrollment," Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said earlier this month.
Nearby school districts, such as Eanes ISD, as well as others across the state, including Houston ISD, Dallas ISD and San Antonio ISD, are also reporting declines.
It remains unclear where the missing students are going. Some may be members of home-based learning pods, enrolled in private school or skipping out altogether. Elizalde has also expressed optimism that once AISD returns to some measure of in-person learning, enrollment numbers will improve.
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