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Trinity Standard - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

TISD job, program cuts recommended
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – In anticipation of losing over $1 million in state funds next year, the Trinity School Board received a laundry list of proposed job, program and other cuts during a special meeting Monday night. While no action was taken on the recommendations during the workshop session, the board is expected to begin implementing the job cuts as early as next week when teachers’ contracts come up for renewal. During the workshop meeting, Trinity Independent School District (TISD) Business Manager Kevin Parrish presented and overview of the state budget crisis, how it is expected to impact on local funding and possible solutions. He emphasized that at this time, the district can do very little to increase local revenue and “the only real alternative” the board now has is to reduce spending. And because 88 percent of the school’s current $8.6 million budget is allocated to cover payroll and contracted services, Parrish said both of those areas would have to be cut in order to balance the TISD budget over the next two-year funding cycle. While the Texas Legislature is now trying to address a $27 billion budget deficit for the next biennium, Parrish said projections now coming out of Austin are giving local districts some information as to what they might expect. Right now those estimates list TISD as losing about $951,000 in direct state funding and $120,000 in “other funding” including grants. “Right now were looking at losing about $1.07 million but that is still subject to change,” Parrish told the board, noting that the loss in state money would be for each of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. He noted that the current year’s state education budget also was facing a deficit of about $800 million but said the release of $3.2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund earlier this month is now expected to cover that short fall. “The governor has already said he is against releasing any more money from the Rainy Day Fund to cover budget shortfalls in the coming biennium so we shouldn’t expect any help from there over the next two years,” Parrish told the board. The proposed cuts recommended by Parrish would be in all of the major spending categories with payroll and contracted services taking the largest hits. They include: • PAYROLL: Currently budgeted at over $6.6 million for all full and part-time employees ranging from administrators to teachers to bus drivers. The recommendation is to cut this by $649,315 by eliminating 11 administrative and teaching positions, 11 secretarial and paraprofessional positions, half a cafeteria position and five to seven bus driver positions. Parrish noted about half of the recommended cuts have already taken place through early notifications from teachers who do not plan to return to work next year. The district offered a financial incentive earlier this year for teachers to provide the early notice. The proposal to eliminate seven bus drivers drew opposition from several board members during the meeting because it would require the district to stop picking up children who reside within two miles of their school. Board members indicted this could actually cost the district money by increasing absenteeism and tardiness. Parrish indicated they could continue all of the current pickups if they cut the driving staff by five, which he said would save about $27,000 per year. Athletic Director Chuck Langston noted the recommendation includes cutting one coach, three coaching stipends and three “low participation” sports: cross country, golf and tennis. Langston, who is now in his second year at Trinity, noted that when he arrived they had 18 coaches on the roster and when school opens next year, he expects to have 10. • CONTRACTED SERVICES: Currently budgeted at almost $1.2 million and includes but is not limited to obtaining professional services that TISD needs but is too small to warrant hiring a full-time staff member. The recommendation is to cut this by $239,867. Among the cuts in this area would be a $116,317 reduction in TISD’s contract with the Region 6 Education Service Center in Huntsville. In addition, the district could drop a $124,531 contract for the upkeep of the athletic fields and school grounds. Instead the district would perform the work “in house” at a cost of about $61,000 per year. The district also would have to have a capital outlay of about $42,000 to purchase mowers and other equipment, but Superintendent Dave Plymale indicated that could be done under the current budget. • SUPPLIES: Currently budgeted at $534,510. The recommendation is to reduce this by $66,843 next year. • MISCELLANEOUS OPERATING EXPENSES: Currently budgeted at $165,747. The recommendation is to reduce this by $7,548. • CAPITAL OUTLAY: Now budgeted at $87,500. The recommendation is to eliminate this budget item completely. Under the plan, any capital expenditure – such as the replacement of air conditioning units – would have to be made from the district’s fund balance (reserve fund). • OPERATING TRANSFER: Now budgeted at $43,934. This is the money transferred from the school’s general fund to the cafeteria fund to cover the annual deficit in the school’s food program. The recommendation is also to totally eliminate this transfer. To cover the deficit in the school cafeteria, Parrish recommended a series of measures that cafeteria officials feel would reduce food costs. He also recommended that the price of lunches served at the school be increased to $3. It was noted that while most students currently qualify under the federal free or reduced price lunch program, a number of students who might qualify have not applied. Because the federal government reimburses TISD $3 for each lunch it serves under the free/reduced lunch program, Parrish indicated that raising the price to meet federal guidelines might encourage many others to apply for the program. Overall, Parrish said the recommended reductions totaled almost $1.1 million – which would give the district a cushion of just over $24,000 from the current projected loss of $1.07 million. “The good news is we will still have school regardless of the final financial funding outcome for the next two school years,” he said. He noted that by cutting the non-personnel items as much as possible, it was the goal of the administrators to reduce the need to make staff cuts. “However, reductions in personnel is the only real option,” he said. Plymale noted that Parrish had been working closely with the campus principals and other administrators to come up with the recommendations. “It’s a lot of stuff that we would prefer not to do, but I’ve talked to people in other school districts and they are literally gutting their programs. At least we’re not having to go that far,” board member Steve Tyler said. “We don’t like to make these cuts, but we don’t have any real choice,” board member L.C. Courtney said. Board members added that any programs that are cut, they hope to restore when the state and local financial picture stabilizes and funds become available once again. Board President Judy Bishop also expressed her appreciation to Parrish, Plymale, the principals and other administrators who compiled the list of recommendations.


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