BISD's financial forecast improves because of cuts

From a $20 million deficit to a $10 million surplus is what the Beaumont Independent School District board of managers is looking to achieve for next school year.

It's a fund balance many could not foresee just a few weeks ago.

But the recent reduction in force cut BISD's expenses by $16 million, and on Tuesday, the board took the first steps in possibly making an additional $15 million in cuts.

The district is not only looking to cut, it also needs to generate revenue.

For BISD to make more money, students need to attend class.  Superintendent Vern Butler says that's his priority.

But as for the board of managers, that group, made up mainly of businessmen is learning just how unbusinesslike BISD was being managed.

The managers learned that even students who didn't qualify for the free lunch program were getting to eat for free if they didn't bring money to pay for meals.

That's just one of the unaccounted expenditures that have been taking place at BISD for years.and that the board of managers plans to rein in.

Board President Jimmy Simmons said, "This is a brand new day, we expect accountability from the bottom to the top."

The board is also considering shutting down the cafeteria in the administration building if it does not become self-sufficient.  It is currently subsidized by taxpayer dollars at the tune of $50,000 annually.

Butler says enrollment at BISD has not changed much the past five years, but daily attendance has gone down, and he says that has reduced state funding.

Butler says he has a plan that includes principals and teachers finding out why kids are not at school, and he says he has not ruled out filing criminal charges against parents who keep their kids out of school.

Simmons also suggests selling the district's land not being used.  He said, "That's almost $3 million in appraised value that could be as much as $7 to $8 million in actual value."

The BISD police force could also be at risk, Simmons has asked the superintendent to do a cost analysis of the department as soon as possible.

Other potential eliminations are BISD's driver's education program, daycare for students' children, extended sick leave for employees, extra pay for teachers who do other duties and after-school bussing for extracurricular activities.

The board also wants the superintendent to keep a close eye on travel expenses.  Manager A.B. Bernard even suggested slashing $1 million out of the travel budget.

Another budget workshop will be held next Tuesday, August 12.  A public hearing on the budget will be August 18, and the board will vote to adopt the budget on August 28, that's three days after school starts.

The goal of the board is to reduce spending for next year to $135 million.


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