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BISD students' tweets grab Texas Education Commissioner's attention

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BEAUMONT - The future of the Beaumont Independent School District is now a hot topic among students.  The school year ended Friday, but the joy that normally comes with that was overshadowed by uncertainty.

The district released a list on the last day of school with 231 positions that were going to be cut, 162 of those are teacher jobs.

Although there are cuts in all departments, many teachers and students believe Fine Arts and Foreign Language courses were gutted.

Those were departments already short-staffed, but now with the layoffs, students fear the departments will cease to exist.

More than twenty teaching spots in Fine Arts and Foreign Languages are on the chopping block, they include instructors for art, drama, band and choir.

One of those who believes she will be let go is Gina Martin, who is the drama teacher at Ozen High School.  Martin says students enrolled in fine arts typically do better across the board.

Martin's son, Franklin, and about 40 other BISD students gathered Sunday to make protest signs for a rally Monday evening before the board of trustees' budget hearing.

Franklin told 12News, "At first, they said it was all about the kids, then we come to find out they've been stealing money from us, which is unfair to us."

BISD says the job cuts are necessary because of the district's financial crisis, but Franklin and many other students blame mismanagement and corruption.

One teacher told us that the $4 million that former BISD financial officers Devin McCraney and Sharika Allison have admitted embezzling could have saved the jobs of up to 100 teachers.

Martin was touched by the support of the students. She said, "I'm overwhelmed, I'm humbled that these kids are  this passionate about it."

The interest from the students has also peaked the interest of Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams who tweeted, "Interesting seeing Beaumont ISD students take to twitter to discuss the district's future."

In another tweet, Williams tried to reassure the community that help was on the way, he tweeted, "Be assured, we're doing all we can to hand off authority, not to the Texas Education Commission, but to a board of managers, comprised of the best of Beaumont."

BISD parent, Mundo Trevino, encouraged other moms and dads to get involved.  Trevino said, "Parents need to step up, they really do, our kids are depending on us, we're their voice."

An interesting footnote to this report is that the one person who should be very aware of the importance of fine arts is the superintendent himself.  Timothy Chargois, Ed.D was at one point in his career a music teacher.


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