BISD's additional cuts could include athletics and police force; tax rate hike also considered

Leroy Saleme is the man of the hour, or in the case of Tuesday's budget talks, he was the center of attention for a couple of hours.

Saleme is the interim Chief Financial Officer for the Beaumont Independent School District leading the efforts to dig the district out a very deep financial hole.

Saleme told 12News, "In 10 years, this district has spent more than $2 billion, 600 million. And it's like we don't print money like the federal government, but we spend it like we are with the federal government."

The Board of Managers has given Saleme the duty of recommending an additional $17 million in cuts.  He has one week to find them.  The goal is to bring down spending for next school year to $130 million.  A likely target is the BISD police force.

Saleme says the police department will face cuts, the extent of which has not been determined, but eliminating the department remains a possibility.

Saleme said, "You're not going to have to worry about the overtime, the liability, the vehicles, those type of things, we know there will be savings."

And then there's the athletic program.  Up until Tuesday it was a taboo topic, but that changed when board manager A.B. Bernard said, "No one has mentioned anything about our athletics program, and there's a tremendous amount of money spent there, and it's as we're afraid to say anything about the program."

Community watchdog Stephen "Doc" Watson, a former athlete himself had been pushing for athletic cuts to be at least considered.

Watson said, "I played football at Beaumont High, had some great coaches that impacted my life, but what's fair is fair, everything needs to be looked at."

Saleme also told 12News a two cent hike in the tax rate is necessary to pay for this year's bond debt of $26 million.  If you own a $100,000 home, you would be paying an additional $18 to $20 a year in school taxes.


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