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Superintendents Seek To Save Schools Budgets & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Dozens of school superintendents with thousands of letters from across Texas have a message for legislators: Make education a priority. The administrators met Monday in Austin to urge the Legislature not to make public schools bear the burden of a massive state revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion.

Wylie Independent School District superintendent John Fuller says the proposed cuts would be "devastating" to the quality of education.

The educators planned to deliver thousands of letters, to lawmakers, objecting to education cuts.

More than half of the school districts in Texas - 529 - have signed onto a resolution asking legislators to make public education the highest priority when addressing the state budget.

Districts say the proposed reductions would mean crippling choices such as teacher layoffs and school closures.

Texas comptroller's office lays out budget crisis

A state budget expert identified $10 billion in lost revenue created by poor planning in making past tax cuts.

The state's chief revenue estimator, John Heleman, said the legislature's decision to cut property taxes in 2005 and replace that revenue with a new business tax created a perpetual budget shortfall. He said the property tax cuts cost more than lawmakers expected, and the new business margins' tax does not bring in as much money as expected. He said that created a $10 billion hole in the budget.

Heleman said the recent recession was the worst to hit Texas since World War II. He said recovery in jobs and business revenues would be slow.

Senators must figure out how to solve a $27 billion budget shortfall in drafting a new budget.

Texas could use yellow arrow for left turns

Going on green in Texas could be replaced by a blinking yellow arrow for drivers making left turns.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that the Federal Highway Administration wants cities and states to begin replacing that solid green light with a flashing yellow arrow. Research shows that a solid green light sometimes confuses drivers into thinking they always have the right of way, in spite of other traffic.

The proposal would require approval of the Texas Transportation Commission. Spokesman Val Lopez says the commission is expected to consider the measure this year.

Traffic planners say a pilot project is planned for Arlington, but a decision on which streets won't happen until after the Super Bowl, which is Sunday.

North Texas chilled, but dandy Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl fans should chill out and not worry about the weather for Sunday's game in North Texas.

The nation's midsection braced for a massive winter storm Monday.

Conditions were milder in Arlington. A winter storm watch is in effect through Tuesday afternoon in the city midway between Dallas and Fort Worth where the Packers and the Steelers will play. The extended forecast, from the National Weather Service, is partly cloudy Sunday with highs in the mid-50s.

Conditions outside the $1.3 million home of the Dallas Cowboys shouldn't affect the play inside. Organizers previously announced that the retractable roof will be closed for the Super Bowl.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines offered customers the opportunity to change their plans, at no charge, due to the anticipated weather impact in the Midwest.

Super Bowl prep eases jury duty in Fort Worth

Super Bowl is the excuse why some potential jurors aren't needed in Fort Worth this week.

Tarrant County court officials have delayed some trials, citing the crush of fans expected leading up to Sunday's game in nearby Arlington between the Steelers and the Packers.

Judge George Gallagher says part of the Main Street area will be the football field for ESPN, which is broadcasting from tourist-popular Sundance Square. A downtown parking area normally used by jurors will be staging areas for the sports network.

Tarrant County typically summons about 6,000 potential jurors each week. Officials say the number usually summoned will be cut in about half.

Gallagher says jurors will still be needed for cases that could not be rescheduled.