Hard times call for doing more with less. Last year’s drought caused hardships for anyone involved in agriculture. Is the drought over? Will the spring rains continue? The Richland Springs area is more likely to be dry than wet. We are used to dry weather. Is the drought in school funding over? The answer for 2012-2013 is no. It will be even worse than this year. The state legislature considers funding every two years. Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session. Legislative budget cuts take effect this current school year and continue into the 2012-2013 school year. In fact, the budget cuts will be greater in 2012-2013 than they were in 2011-2012 for Richland Springs ISD. Our revenue will be less and our student count will be less. There are 20 Regional Education Service Centers in Texas. Richland Springs ISD is part of the Region XV Education Service Center located in San Angelo. Region XV is the only region that lost student population in the previous ten years. All of the other 19 Regional Education Service Center areas in Texas gained student population in the previous 10 year period. Budget reductions have transformed school life at Richland Springs in a variety of ways. Budget reductions affect everyone in a small school. What does the future hold? Several school finance lawsuits are pending in Texas courts. State Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, said Wednesday in Abilene, ‘A statewide property tax may be just what Texas needs to begin equalizing funding among school districts.’ Senator Duncan also told the Texas Association of Rural Schools members that the state would likely have to cut education funding to boost health care funding if President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Texas Legislature has played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide. Believe me, they are real.Persons living in the school district that are not involved in the school are also facing tough economic times, and have their own financial burdens to bear. We know persons who are currently unemployed and cannot find jobs. Retired persons on fixed incomes really feel the pinch of rising prices. Gas and diesel prices are reaching $4/gallon and those extra fuel costs restrict discretionary spending. Grocery store prices continue to rise. School districts are consumers also, and these same costs also affect school districts.Reductions in state funding to Richland Springs ISD have reached unprecedented levels. District fuel costs to operate busses have increased. Electricity and propane costs have increased, even with a mild winter. State accountability requirements have increased, but funding has not. Richland Springs currently spends approximately $20,000/year remediating math students to be successful on state mandated testing. We must continue to spend these dollars as the rigor of state testing is increasing. The school finance system has failed to adequately pay for public education in Texas.Rural schools in West Texas are seriously under-represented in the educational committees in the Texas Legislature. Rural schools like Richland Springs ISD are worried about the future if the state continues to cut funds for education. We take the cards we are dealt. Despite cuts in funding, Richland Springs ISD has continued to remain competitive in both academics and athletics. The people working at the district are the key to continued student success. We hold true to our West Texas values. We become more creative, we make adjustments, we value each other, and we do more with less. We are used to dry weather.Community involvement is the key to our success!