by Victor Lopez
ECTOR COUNTY--They've chipped away a good amount, but there's still a ways to go.
The entire meeting took less than an hour. In that time, district officials talked about why they have to make these kinds of cuts and what their plans are for doing so. All while, keeping the integrity of the classroom intact, which is what they said they were striving to do all along.
"I've never seen, in my years in education, this size of a budget deficit before," ECISD Superintendent, Hector Mendez, said.
A group of about 70 teachers, staff, even parents were on hand on Tuesday night to hear how ECISD plans to tackle losing so much money from the state, without having to cut any more than they need to from within the district.
According to Mendez, "That's what we're about. That's our business, education. We have to look at efficiencies. We have to look at consolidations of programs. Those programs are being absorbed in a different way. We're having to do things differently."
With payroll making up 83.5% of their budget, a large part of the $13.4 million that will be trimmed, will come from staffing.
Mendez admits a total of 64 positions will be eliminated but that doesn't mean all these people will be out of a job, "It's positions, not necessarily people. We're working very hard to place those people, whose positions have been eliminated, they're taking other positions."
In addition, the district won't be buying any new computers or busses. They're also cutting back on extra-curricular/non-UIL trips. And, there's going to be a $200,000 reduction to the athletics budget too.
Chuck Isner, President of the local chapter of The Texas State Teacher's Association, was the only person that stood up to speak during public comments. He thanked the board for their hard work and says it's not their fault to begin with.
"I don't agree with everything, but I don't fault them, because I know they're doing the best they can. The state is the one who created the problem and, I think, the state has the need to fix it," Isner said.
The final damage report won't be known until state leaders vote on a final budget. Until then, school districts are expected to make due with what they have left.