Students and parents protest as Pflugerville ISD speaks of school closures and possible program cuts

Austin (KXAN) — Discussions about possible school closures and program cuts continue at the Pflugerville ISD as the district faces a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

On Thursday, students and parents protested outside the PFISD administration building in front of a district school board meeting. They were there to make sure the Martial Arts Kickstart program wasn’t cut next year.

“Kickstart… Kickstart… Kickstart,” chanted students dressed in Kickstart martial arts uniforms.

“We just really hope we can keep this program alive,” one parent said at the protest.

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

“Kickstart pays no room fees, charges parents, charges the district, and requires a minimum enrollment to ensure that the district must pay the difference if that minimum is not met, while not being required to enroll children into its program. We would like them to continue on fairer terms. We think they really should do the right thing and get a fair contract for a county that is currently in significant financial need.” – Pflugerville ISD spokesperson

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

Killian said the state’s recapture system has created problems for the county.

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

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

“In 2019, they made a historic increase in the base amount for us, and then inflation ate it all up,” he said.

Currently, the base amount per student is $6,160, but this has not changed since 2019.

Representative James Talarico said lawmakers are working to increase appropriations.

“To ensure that more counties keep the majority of their property tax revenue at home while working for our local students, local families and local communities,” Talarico said.

PFISD is not the only area facing problems due to the current recapture system, he said.

“Many counties, like Austin ISD, where many students live in poverty, have been taken captive again and are now sending money to the state that they could actually use at home,” Talarico said. “The best way to reform returns is to ensure that more counties keep more of their money at home.”

Killian said he hopes the parents will reach out to lawmakers on current issues.

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