|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Staff cuts looming on TISD’s horizon
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – Faced with $1 million in state funding cuts starting next year, on Monday the Trinity School Board formally began the process of cutting staff to reduce payroll costs. During the meeting, the board declared that a “financial exigency” exists due to the loss of state funds, a declaration that is a prelude to cutting current staff. The reduction in staff – in addition to those who have opted to retire – is expected to be made through the non-renewal of contracts after the current agreements expire at the end of the current school year. The declaration also gives the school board the authority to end multi-year contracts early. Superintendent David Plymale said under Texas Education Agency rules, before a district can issue a financial exigency declaration, it must meet certain conditions. In addition to the massive cuts in state funding, Plymale said the local declaration also meets the conditions of allowing the district to conserve its financial resources and allowing the district to change its internal organization to promote efficiency. After the declaration was approved, Plymale suggested that the board meet Monday, March 7, for a special workshop to discuss which staff positions would be eliminated. However, because two board members could not attend on that date, it was decided to postpone the session until a date could be found that would allow all seven members to be present. “The campus principals and I will be meeting later this week to discuss what recommendation we will be making. We will be ready when we decide on a date,” Plymale told the board. He noted that a priority in the staff cut recommendation would be to create the smallest possible impact on the education process. In the past, it was noted that in examining a position for elimination, officials would try to determine if the duties of that job could effectively be distributed to other staff members. It was also noted that class sizes in various grade levels would have to increase as teaching positions were eliminated. The superintendent presented a written analysis of the possible impact on local finances that was prepared by the consulting firm of Moak, Casey and Associates. The report, which covered all Texas school district, indicated how much each could expect to lose under the various proposals now being kicked around by the Texas Legislature. At present, the legislature is proposing to make $10 billion in cuts to education funding over the next two years as a means of solving the state’s overall budget crisis. According to the report, the Trinity Independent School District (TISD) could lose between $951,000 and $1.244,000 during the 2011-2012 school year, depending on what plan the legislature finally selects. Plymale said he has been told that the most likely scenario that the legislature will adopt would cost TISD $1,040,000 next year. According to the report, the Houston ISD would be among the hardest hit, losing between $202 million and $348 million. The neighboring Groveton ISD stands to lose between $625,000 and $911,000 next year, according to the report. “Funding, funding, funding! That’s all the talk at any meeting I go to these days,” Plymale told the board. He noted he has been in direct contact with state senators, representatives and other officials in Austin, as well as with other school superintendents. Among those offering strong support was the newly elected State Rep. James White, whom Plymale noted was a schoolteacher until he resigned in December in order to begin work in Austin. Plymale said White contacted him over the weekend and said he would like to meet with school officials and teachers during a meeting next Saturday. A time for the meeting has not yet been set. “He told me he has learned that only four or five people in the state actually know how the funding system works,” Plymale said, adding that these is growing “talk in Austin” about the need to “fix the funding formula” for schools. Other action During the meeting, the board also: • Approved the 2011-2012 school calendar. Under the plan, new teachers would report for work on Monday, Aug. 8. Classes would run from Monday, Aug. 22 through Friday, June 1, 2012. The biggest change from previous years would be that the first semester would end on Friday, Dec. 16, the day classes end for the Christmas/New Year break. In past years, the semester did not come to a close until shortly after the holiday. • Received a technology report from TISD Technology Director Brian Furbee. • Tabled action on setting the dates for the summer school and TAKS Camp programs. Plymale told the board there is a possibility the state may “delay” their August and July payments to local districts. If the July payments are delayed, he indicated there may not be enough money to fund the entire summer program. • Named Virginia Johnson as the election judge and early voting clerk for the May 14 school board election.