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Rockwall ISD trustees approve plan to lay off school district employees

The Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees approved a cost-cutting measure at last night’s trustees meeting to begin laying off school district administration and support services personnel in anticipation of the district’s expected $15 million cut in state funding for the 2011-12 school year.

The exact number of layoffs was not announced, and they do not involve teacher positions, at this point.

Superintendent Jeff Bailey said the approved reductions would save the district about $1.8 million.

In addition, RISD will offer a $1,000 incentive package to the first 25 librarians, counselors or teachers to turn in resignations by March 1, 2011.

School board President David Loftis said he hoped normal attrition and hiring policy changes will help reduce the number of layoffs necessary, but “those alone won’t meet the district’s budget goals,” he said.

Rockwall ISD has also targeted $6 million from its budget with departmental cuts and reduced campus allocations. All contract decisions have been frozen through April, as well.

With the State of Texas facing a $15-25 billion budget shortfall, school districts around the state have been bracing for a $9.5 billion reduction in state funding, which accounts for about 37 percent of overall school district revenue.

Property taxes account for about 56 percent of revenue, with miscellaneous federal and state funds .

Payroll costs alone for employees are responsible for 86 percent of RISD expenditures, or $85,717,445.

According to the RISD website school finance presentation, the $6 million in targeted reductions include:

  • Staff Health Center ($700,000)
  • Custodial Services ($390,000)
  • Maintenance ($362,804)
  • Campus Allocations ($301,000)
  • Curriculum & Instruction ($250,675)
  • Safety/Security ($120,833)
  • Athletics ($119,729)
  • Finance ($117,503)
  • Transportation ($100,000)
  • Administrative Services ($42,916)
  • Policy Planning ($41,796)
  • Human Resources ($33,348)
  • Communications ($27,544)
  • Superintendent/Board of Trustees ($15,000)

RISD Communications Director Sheri Fowler said an additional $1.9 million will be saved due to an equity transfer after switching from a self-funded health insurance program to the TRS.

Debt service of $546 million will also be paid off this year and saved from next year’s budget.

Even after the above reductions are made, another$9.5 million worth of reductions may be necessary, according to the website presentation.

Bailey is encouraging area residents to contact legislators for help.

“Please write and contact legislators and let them know that public education is a priority and not to cut the funding at the level it is today,” he said.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher

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