North Texas School District Lays Off Teachers & Other Employees Due To Financial Woes

Days before Christmas,  Jessica How, and parents across the Tioga Independent School District had to deliver difficult news to their kids.

“I had to come home get eye level with him and say hey buddy your teacher is not going to be coming back,” said How, a parent of two elementary-aged students in the district.

At a time when schools everywhere are desperately trying to find teachers any way they can,  Tioga is sending some of their educators packing, because they simply don’t have the money to pay them.

“It was building a high school, and building a big football program and thinking more housing that was coming in, and they would be able to raise the tax rate and those things not coming through,” said How, who has attended board meetings closely since the financial problems came to light.

The school district received an F grade on their state report card for their ability to manage their finances. They failed last year too.   

The superintendent retired, they moved to a four-day schedule, and still, the only way they can pay the bills was to lay off about 20 employees and cut the salary of the acting superintendent who promised they’ll do better.

“It starts tonight, and if I get one message across it’s that we’re not putting a dollar figure on our employees,” said Josh Ballinger, Interim Superintendent. 

The employees caught in the middle of this, likely will find work in neighboring districts, where teachers are in demand. Still, many are heartbroken.

“When your heart feels it, it’s totally different, I had to go back and tell my kids and they were devastated,  I had one that wouldn’t let go of me all day,” said Beth Gunning, a kindergarten teacher.

Parents are online trying to raise money to help the schools, the laid-off teachers, and just figure out a way forward. 

A high-ranking source tells NBC 5 the state will be stepping in to help Tioga ISD manage their money, something parents say is overdue. 

“This is a very small town and you don’t always have people in such a small town that know how to handle such a big thing, said How.

How said this is more than just a small-town issue, though.

“This should be a wake-up call to all parents, you might be at the PTA meetings, you might be at the school every day but you need to be at the school board meetings,” she said.

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