BISD board's vote will trigger layoffs - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

BISD board's vote will trigger layoffs

BEAUMONT - The Beaumont Independent School District board of trustees learned Thursday that the district is in deeper debt than initially estimated.

This is why the board voted to declare a financial emergency.  That declaration will trigger a workforce reduction that could cost 300 employees their jobs.

BISD's financial consultant Bill Lenhart told board trustees the financial hole the district is in is very deep, and if action is not taken, there might not be a district next year.

The consultant recommended $32 million worth of proposed spending cuts with the most severe being layoffs.

Lenhart recommended the elimination of after-school programs and canceling bus service for pre-K.  He suggested charging for parking at football games and to lease BISD facilities.

He also proposed the district reduce its contribution to employees' medical coverage.

But Lenhart said the biggest expense comes from staff on school campuses.  This is why dozens of teachers showed up at Thursday's budget hearing held at the administration building.  They came armed with protest signs and a petition with more than 1,200 signatures opposing the layoffs.

The teachers blame corruption and mismanagement by the district's top brass for the financial crisis, but the superintendent, Timothy Chargois, Ed.D, blamed the crisis on state funding cuts and a decline in average daily attendance.  He also said the district has spent a lot on litigation.

The Texas Education Agency's conservator at BISD, Fred Shafer, read a statement from Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams, that says, "Any staff reduction you're considering should first come in those areas furtherest from the classroom." 

The statement basically says that teachers should be the last to be let go.

The TEA cannot stop the layoffs once the district has declared a financial emergency.  But in the end, in a 4-to-1 vote, the board of trustees voted to declare a financial emergency, which gives Chargois authority to begin cutting jobs.

Only Trustee Tom Neild voted against the resolution, which we learned was written by a lawyer who is an associate of Chris Tritico.  Tritico is the attorney representing BISD in its appeal of the TEA's plan to take over the district.

Dr. Chargois said it is not known yet the exact number of employees who will lose their jobs, because the initial estimate of 300 could go down if some employees choose to retire.

District officials say 70 have already announced their retirement plans.

Chargois said he will meet with principals Monday to discuss with them the evaluation process they will go through to determine who gets laid off.

Notifications will be sent out by June 12 to those who will be affected.

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