The Beaumont Independent School District board meeting Monday night was ranked high in drama, but low in results. The Board defeated a motion that would have cut 113 jobs from the district.
It was an awkward vote that saw the Reduction in Force, or RIF, proposal go down to defeat. Trustee Woodrow Reece was the only vote in support of the proposal, Trustee Mike Neil was the only vote against, with Trustees Zenobia Bush, Terry Williams, and Janice Brassard all abstaining from voting. Trustee Tom Neild was on vacation and did not vote on the proposal.
Monday's developments leaves the district with no plan of action to reduce costs. The district is facing a $25 million shortfall for the next budget year, and is also trying to stave off a takeover attempt being made by the Texas Education Agency. The TEA has already appointed a conservator for the district, and he made his presence felt at Monday's meeting.
Fred Shafer, the conservator speaking on behalf of the Texas Education Agency, chided trustees after the vote, saying at the current rate the district is spending money, there will simply not be enough left to pay teachers in August.
Trustee Bush, retaliated, saying she refused to vote on the layoffs knowing a TEA-appointed Board of Managers would come in afterwards and undo what they did anyway. Trustee Reece echoed, Bush, asking Shafer to override the vote and conduct the layoffs themselves.
It was at that point that Shafer grew agitated, telling trustees that the conservator nor the TEA would come in and do their work, saying trustees would not dump the board's responsibilities on them. Shafer then said the TEA would not override what they did.
Shafer's comments lead to loud applause from the already raucous audience that packed the meeting room.
Trustees did vote to merge two middle schools, Austin and King. The move is expected to save the district about $1.5 million.
An aid to the district's financial consultant also spoke at the meeting, encouraging trustees to act sooner than later on the cuts, saying the move would allow current teachers on the RIF list to apply for other openings within the district.
In the end, there was no action taken by trustees. Trustees are expected to meet again Monday.