Groesbeck School Board Still Indecisive About New Budget
The Groesbeck ISD School Board met on Tuesday, June 20 at Enge-Washington Intermediate Cafeteria to discuss among other things what to do with the budget for 2017-2018. Board members present were Tom Sutton, Bill David Sadler, Mika Morgan, Bridgett Jackson, Randy Hunter and Ronnie Ferguson. Bob Waller was not present. There were several concerned teachers and citizens also in attendance.
Bryan Moore, GISD Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, presented the Board the plan that he had worked extensively on trying to find a solution for. The loss of 4 million dollars two years in succession will have an extreme impact on GISD. Moore discussed some strategies to help the situation.
A recently vacated assistant principal position at H.O.W. Elementary will not be filled. Moore recommended that a cut in campus allocations of $300,000 would also help the situation. He presented to the board with what could be cut and it only adds up 1.6 million dollars and that still won’t be enough. Moore emphasized repeatedly that he hates to cut employee salaries but he sees no other option.
Moore told the board that he travelled with Dr. Harold Ramm, GISD Superintendent, Randy Hunter, GISD Board Member, and Mika Morgan, GISD Board President, to a special meeting with Rep. Kyle Kacal and the Commissioner of Education in Austin to make an appeal to release Homestead Exemption funds that are being held by the state. The loss of ASATR was also discussed at that meeting.
The elimination of city school bus routes was discussed as another means to cut costs. Eliminating the Pre-K program came up, but after discussion, the board concluded that the program actually pays for itself.
Hunter commented that we are not at the maximum tax rate. A Tax Revision Election or TRE during the year 2018-2019 is another option to gain more funds for the budget. Sadler asked if the district didn’t make teacher pay cuts and the TRE passes, would that take care of the problem? Moore is also working with the bank to refinance the bonds to gain more dollars with a rate swap.
Moore stated and stressed that the salaries for 2017-2018 have to be set by July 13 and the tax rate by August 31. Hunter made a motion that the board give Moore instructions to prepare a budget with the “worse case scenario” and a salary cut of four percent. The motion was not seconded. After more discussion, Hunter made the proposal again. No board members seconded the motion. No action was taken on the matter, and the board moved on to the next item on the Agenda.
Other ideas to find available funds were presented in the public forum. First to speak in the public forum was former Mayor of Groesbeck and GISD Coach, Jim Longbotham. He reminded the board of the impact that a strong showing in Austin can have if citizens join together for a cause in the case of the MSSLC. They were able to gather 5,000 people to go in support of keeping the MSSLC open. Gary Shelton, a concerned parent, shared some ideas about changing and eliminating some bus routes to save the district money.
Ricky Waller and Crala Pringle, current GISD Teachers, presented a proposal of a 4-day school week. They presented their research and discussed the pros and cons. The pros would be the savings due to buses running less days, and teachers would have a day to use for staff development, preparation and special meetings. One con would be that parents would have to find additional childcare for the day off from school.
Other ideas that were suggested by teachers were reviewed and discussed. Keri Thoele, GISD Assistant Superintendent, went over recent STARR test scores with the board. All the campuses still struggle with index 3 which deals with sub-groups. Ladena King, H.O.W. Elementary Principlal presented testing information from the elementary school. She explained how the tests are administered and how struggling students are identified.
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Editors Note: A full report on Tuesdays Special School Board meeting will be published Thursday, June 29.