LISD Braces for Serious Budget Cuts
The Lexington ISD Board of Trustees met Monday, March 7, for a special called meeting to continue to look at the devastating outlook for Texas schools if the legislature does not make public education a priority and use some of the rainy day fund to minimize the cuts that are proposed for our public schools.
How would these cuts effect Lexington Schools? Dr. Frances McArthur, Superintendent of Schools said, “It depends. If the original demoralizing budget developed by the Legislative Budget Board for the House of Representatives was put in place, the effects would be devastating because it would mean about a 15% reduction for the next two years. A reduction of that magnitude would mean reducing twenty-five full time employees.”
So how prepared is Lexington for a cut of that magnitude? McArthur continued, “Lexington ISD has prepared for difficult times and made budget reductions for the past year and a half. Frankly, some of these reductions did result in larger class sizes in high school English classes and less services for students. However, because of these previous cuts and others, the district’s fund balance was maintained well over the optimum, which would allow us to absorb a 7.5% reduction for one year coupled with the 7.5% reduction LISD administrators are preparing for next year if the worse-case scenario happens.”
A recently released projection by The Equity Center places the estimated reduction for LISD at a much more manageable level of $548,000, which is slightly below the $557,414, 7.5% reduction, McArthur is proposing.
The proposed 2011- 2012 budget includes a reduction of eight and a half full time employees, ending a $36,000 contract with Giddings Independent School District for DAEP services, as well as the increased revenue projected by thirty-one transfer students.
McArthur told trustees on Monday, “ It is my intent to preserve jobs. We will do everything we can to accomplish that, yet it may mean we will go through a time of uncertainty while we wait for the State Legislature to hopefully choose a path that will combine some budget cuts with other revenue alternatives that will not be devastating to public education.”
Dr. Mark Strain, LISD Trustee, told Dr. McArthur that he would be OK at this point in the session, with shooting towards a 7.5% offset in reductions plus revenues. “The problem is we just don’t know what the final outcome will be until the end of May,” said Strain. “I sure don’t want to see us taking away people’s jobs unnecessarily.”
In the meantime, the LISD staff has brainstormed an additional $190,831 in reductions that can be put in place if the projected thirtyone qualifying transfer students do not happen.
Alan Turner, LISD Trustee, recommended counselors have the opportunity to provide input into selection of transfer students as LISD officials will be looking very closely at disciplinary issues before accepting students.
“We will certainly look in to that as we are committed to being very selective of students enrolling into our schools regarding past disciplinary history,” said McArthur.
Joe Green, LISD Trustee, asked staff to look into the savings of trustees attending training in Austin to save the money spent going to Corpus Christi for board training. “I think if our teachers are willing to make cuts, we should as well at the school board level. I also think we should each pick up our packets or have them sent electronically to save the postage spent. Postage won’t amount to that much money, but again it sends a message that we are willing to cut at every level of our organization,” stated Green.
McArthur will be taking those numbers as well as transfers applications to date to the trustees at the regular March meeting on the 28th.
Phillip Brown, LISD Trustee, requested staff to look carefully at facility rental. “How much are we charging now for the use of our facilities?” asked Mr. Brown. “We used to be the cheapest place around.” Dr. McArthur stated that it would be good to evaluate those charges.