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School board talks budget cuts, finances


Fiscal issues and budget cuts are still a hot topic among school districts, and the La Vernia Independent School District (ISD) is no exception.

During the May 24 regular school board meeting, Superintendent Tom Harvey updated board members Eric Friedrichs, Richard Schier, Mike Jendrusch, John Bilicek, James Barnett, David Watson, and Janice Gimbel on plans for dealing with future budget cuts.

According to Harvey, the district is still “waiting on numbers.” At this time, the district does not know the extent of the state budget cuts. Harvey said the cut could be anywhere from $400,000 per year to $3 million a year.

“We’re being very cautious,” Harvey said.

In June, the board will recommend a salary freeze for all employees.

“We have a great staff and I think they understand,” Harvey said.

The district has approved all contracts for employees for the upcoming year. No contracts have been terminated due to the budget cuts, Harvey said.

The district has retained approximately $343,000 from stimulus money. Harvey said one issue that some other districts have is using stimulus money to hire teachers. But because stimulus money is a “one-time thing,” the districts sometimes have to fire teachers when the funding ends. The stimulus money saved at La Vernia ISD will be used in August to pay teachers for their seven days of inservice.

The district has realized savings of $751,000 through attrition and other measures. Harvey said he hopes that the district can replace all teachers and staff who have left, but if not, the district will have to rearrange classrooms.

The superintendent said in order for the state to make these budget cuts, it also must give schools some kind of flexibility to make things work, such as allowing more students in the classroom per teacher.

“We have to have our plans, our thoughts, and a number of scenarios,” Harvey said.

The district’s fund balance currently stands at $4 million. Harvey believes this and grant money will help the district.

“I’m predicting that it’s going to be tough,” he said. “But I think the economy will get better and we’ll get better.”

Also at the meeting:

¢The board reelected Mike Jendrusch as board president, Janice Gimbel as vice president, and John Bilicek as board secretary.

¢The board received a $7,560 donation from the district’s athletic booster club.

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