Teachers react to BISD's massive layoff plans

Around 300 personnel in the Beaumont Independent School District will be informed of job cuts by June 12.  These cuts will be composed of 225 contract positions and 75 at-will positions.

Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois said it is an effort to reduce expenditures by $25 million.  He pledged to do the reduction in force within the framework of existing district policies and procedures.

The assurances are not enough for some educators.  For folks like Blanchette Elementary kindergarten teacher Sebrina Dollar, the timing of the announcement to cut 300 jobs in the financially strapped district is suspect.

"I received (the letter) at 3:43 p.m. We are only required to be at school until 3:40. This is Friday afternoon. It is a holiday weekend," Dollar said.

Dollar does not know if she will be among those to lose their jobs, but quickly noted the frustration that $4 million allegedly embezzled from the district would pay for the jobs of roughly 88 teachers.

Beaumont Teachers Association President Greg Sholl had hoped attrition would cover some of the losses, and says in the end, no doubt about it, it will be the kids that get hurt most.

"You might want to look at it this way: 300 people. That's eight to ten people per campus, and that's a lot for any campus to absorb. If you're looking at a middle school or elementary school, that would just decimate their staff," said Sholl.

Longtime BISD critic and Beaumont City Councilman Mike Getz believes savings should come from elsewhere.

"One of the things that they could do is they could stop the litigation that is ensuing to prevent the TEA from coming in with the board of managers. That is something that is ultimately going to happen. It's a given. And yet, apparently they're willing to spend their last dime to try to stay in office even though they have a legacy of failure," Getz said.

And while supporting the superintendent's decision, trustee Woodrow Reece argued there may yet be a way to trim down from that figure of 300 job cuts.

"I would hope that the 300 figure was leaving you some wiggle room to the point that, 'Look how bad I said, but look, we went down to 200 or 175'," said Reece.

Sebrina Dollar is frustrated that coach Plez Atkins got severance pay from the district while many educators will be left high and dry.

The board of trustees will vote on the issue.  There is still hope that raises could be pulled back or that other ways could be found to lessen the pain.


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