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Bryan ISD trying to cut $600K from budget

Bryan ISD trying to cut $600K from budget

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The Bryan school district has to eliminate about $3 million from its biennial budget and still hasn't identified about $600,000 of the cut.

Superintendent Thomas Wallis said the district has been financially responsible over the years. But the reductions the Legislature made this past summer made an ineffective education funding system even worse.

"What the state has done to us is absolutely wrong," Wallis told school board members this week. "What the state of Texas has done is virtually criminal."

Chief Financial Officer Amy Drozd presented recommendations and considerations for reductions to the budget to the school board members this week.

The strain on the district's budget has been compounded in recent years, Drozd said. About $2.9 million was reduced from the current year's budget; $2.2 million from the 2010-11 budget and about $7.5 million was slashed from the 2006-07 school year to the 2009-10 cycle.

Drozd said student enrollment did not grow this year. The budget assumes the district will continue to experience flat enrollment for the upcoming year, but if enrollment were to grow just 1 percent the district would receive an additional $600,000 from the state, she said.

Despite the looming reductions, district staff said, it's important the district continue to look out for its employees.

The district continues to fall below the market level in employee salaries, Drozd said. Part of the recommendation to the trustees may also include increasing salaries so the district is more competitive with similar districts, she said. A 2 percent raise for everyone on the salary schedule -- excluding administrative, clerical and maintenance staffs -- is included in the budget and would cost $1.4 million, she said.

"Raises are very important to the district," Drozd said. "We're trying not to fall further behind."

Drozd said staff has gathered preliminary reduction proposals for discussion. She said each department in the district has been asked to bring back ideas to help meet the $3 million requirement needed to balance the budget.

Preliminary budget reduction recommendations include:

* Saving about $1.3 million through actions that include eliminating administrative staff, a drop-out specialist, and a computer technician, reformatting the library staffing formula, replacing licensed vocational nurses with registered nurses and other measures.

* Eliminating middle and high school teaming over a two-year period for a savings of almost $1.4 million.

* Relocating Mary Catherine Harris School of Choice and Hammond-Oliver High School for the Human Sciences in 2013-14. Moving the two schools could save the district about $125,000 and additional funds in the future.

Hammond-Oliver is in dire need of repair and will require large renovation if action is not taken, Drozd said.

* Eliminating transfer transportation for middle school academies in 2013-14 for a savings of $25,000.

"That would mean if a student wanted to go to that particular school and did not live in that zone that they would have to provide their own transportation," Drozd said.

* Moving to two 4A high schools in 2013-14 to save about $210,000.

In addition, Wallis said 65 employees have chosen to take the early resignation incentive, of whom 50 are teachers. District staff is still evaluating how that will impact the budget, and if the resignations are in the areas needed for cuts or if any type of rearrangement is needed in staffing.

Wallis said he will bring a balanced budget to trustees because that's what they've asked of him. However, he said, he thinks it is wrong to continue to eliminate funding when it's only hurting the district, students and employees.

"I've said all along I'll bring you a balanced budget. But I'll also tell you I completely disagree with it," he said. "If I balance the budget we tell the state that we've fixed the state's problems."

School board president Maritza Hoffman said she understands the disagreement but noted that there are rules in place for a reason.

"We would not be responsible board members if we didn't look at every possibility," she said.

Despite the millions slashed over the years, Hoffman said, the district has not eliminated faculty and is in better shape than many other districts.

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