Layoff talk sparks rumors and panic among BISD employees - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Layoff talk sparks rumors and panic among BISD employees

BEAUMONT - There is so much concern about possible layoffs at the Beaumont Independent School District that Board President Gwen Ambres said Thursday's budget hearing will be streamed live on the internet. But Trustee Tom Neild said there are 300 jobs on the chopping block and BISD employees deserve answers immediately.

The Beaumont Enterprise said in an editorial Wednesday , "The first move Beaumont ISD trustees must make in response to the latest financial crisis is an obvious one: Eliminate the district's police force. The district can contract with law enforcement officers from the Beaumont Police Department or Jefferson County sheriff's department for security in the next school year and save a lot of money in the process."

Some officers, who spoke to us anonymously, said they are worried.  They fear retaliation for a lawsuit several of them filed against the district for back pay.   Court documents show that the officers were getting paid overtime for just their base pay, not for the additional stipends they earn.

Officers say BISD acknowledged the officers had been not paid in the correct way, but the district refuses to pay the officers two years in back pay.  So about 20 of the officers have sued the district.  The outcome of the suit is pending in federal court, and it could cost the district $200,000 if the officers prevail.

Ambres said it is not the time to panic.  Referring to the rumor about the police force being cut.

Ambres said, "These are all things that will be discussed, but nothing has been decided."

Ambres says the board must first declare a financial disaster that would give Superintendent, Timothy Chargois, Ed.D the authority to reduce the workforce, that could happen at the budget hearing 6 p.m. Thursday.

Ambres said, "All of this is going to be done in the light of day, so that everyone understands the process."

Neild doubts that.  He said the process has already started with a lie.  He points to the letter Chargois sent out last Friday announcing the possible layoffs of 300 employee. 

In it Chargois said "the board of trustees is carefully evaluating the district's options to reduce $25 million in expenditures."

Neild says the board has not been involved at all.

Neild told 12News, "That's an outright lie, and I take that personally, I'm offended that I'm associated with that."

Neild said Chargois and administrators are being insincere and hypocritical.  For instance at an hour-long meeting Tuesday to discuss the possible layoffs as spending cuts, Neild said the district spent money on food.

Neild said he has always had a problem with taxpayer dollars being spent on feeding trustees and BISD staff at meetings.
He said in light of Chargois' letter, school officials should start skipping meals that are on the taxpayers' dime.

Neild told us, "We're here to serve, not to be served."
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