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15 Feb, 2017 02:02

Desperate school district floats idea of using students as janitors

Desperate school district floats idea of using students as janitors

A massive budget crisis has forced a Texas school district to consider radical measures including suggestions to use students as janitors and having students pay to play sports.

The Frisco Independent School District (ISD) serves over 56,000 students in the Dallas area, but to what extent in the future remains to be seen. Between a loss of state funding and voters refusing to pay an extra 13 cents in property taxes, the district has been left to devise its own methods of fixing its budget.

When it comes to school budget cuts, it’s rare for there to be an easy or simple solution. However, one particularly interesting idea made its way into Thursday’s brainstorming session: “reasonable ‘self-service’ programs to reduce custodial needs.” The suggestion essentially means that the district is being asked to consider having students use time during the school day to take out the garbage.

The budgetary benefits of the measure are listed as “TBD,” but the comments about the idea explain that they would “create reasonable programs for reduced services that are significantly time-consuming.” The suggestion says “classroom trash receptacles can be emptied to a central point by students each day.

This isn’t the only extreme measure the district is considering. Students who wish to play sports could be looking at paying $100 to $200 to stay active and play on a team. “I know people who have two, three, four kids that it would impact and that’s a lot of money,” local parent Melissa Bradbury told KXAS.

The district is also considering having students pay to ride the school bus.

Teachers and administrators are also on the chopping block for budget cuts. Instead of having students be transported from different schools to take classes, one suggestion includes having students either take online classes or have their teachers travel. Given that Texas is in the lower third of teacher salaries, having to travel could be costly in terms of both time and money.

Library aids could be replaced with volunteers or have their jobs shared with tech support.

Less troubling measures would include trademarking the schools’ logos, charging for event parking and charging more for tickets to events. However, all of these are only suggestions until the budget is approved in April.

The $30 million deficit created by the end of a fund called Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction has already opened a can of worms for the district, however. Four new schools will not open in the 2017-2018 school year to save money, according to the Houston Chronicle. Frisco ISD is one of the fastest growing districts in Texas.