BISD board bows to public pressure and postpones decision on lay - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

BISD board bows to public pressure and postpones decision on layoffs

BEAUMONT - The Beaumont Independent School District's board of trustees voted to postpone making any decisions on job cuts until next week.

They says they want more information and more discussion of other options.

Among those options suggested by board members was a salary reduction for all employees including Superintendent, Timothy Chargois, Ed.D, ranging from three to five percent.

Chargois said three percent could save $4 million or 80 jobs; five percent would save $6 million or 120 jobs.

Right now there are 231 proposed job cuts that would require board approval since those are contract positions, 185 of those are classroom teachers, but Chargois says 67 of those positions are already vacant because of retirements.

Chargois said there are 72 jobs that will be eliminated but they are at-will employees and don't need board approval to be cut.

Chargois said surveys indicate a majority of employees don't want to take a pay cut.

Trustee Zenobia Bush threw out the possibility of raising property taxes one-and-a-half percent, which drew a big boo from the audience, and even Dr. Chargois distanced himself from that suggestion.

But Chargois did confirm something we reported last week, and that's that schools might also be on the chopping block.

Chargois said, "If you have me take this off the table, well then I'm going to have to balance that, which means decisions earlier probably not to impact the closing of schools may have to be revisited because ultimately we need approximately $25 million to operate."

Four hundred people people packed into the BISD boardroom, and there were many more outside, mostly fine arts students trying to save their teachers' jobs and prevent the elimination of fine arts programs.

BISD board members made it clear to Chargois, fine arts was off the table, and while there might be layoffs  in that department, the job cuts can't be severe enough to eliminate programs.

Chargois, a former music teacher, felt the pressure himself.  He told us, "Personally I want to save everybody, I want to save every position.  Professionally, I cannot save every position."

The Texas Education Agency's conservator over BISD, Fred Shafer, advised the board against delaying the process of job cuts.

He said, "We have a certain amount of time to get decisions made and if it ends up where teachers are RIFed (Reduction In Force), I want these teachers to have an appropriate amount of time to be able to seek future employment."

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