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Mason ISD Faces Reality of State Budget Shortfall
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Posted April 20, 2011

During the Monday night meeting of the Mason I.S.D. Board members, Superintendent Pam Kruse discussed in great detail how the state's current budget shortfall may affect the local school district. Her statement follows:As time passes and the Texas legislature struggles to develop a budget for our state it becomes necessary to make some very difficult decisions for Mason ISD. I have been hoping for about three months now that things would begin to look up for public school funding. That has not happened. The House of Representatives has passed their version of a budget and it cuts $7.8 billion from public education. The Senate has yet to pass their version but the rumors we superintendents have been hearing are the cuts from education would be closer to $4 billion. Of course the $24,000 question is, “How will that affect Mason ISD?” It all depends on what agreement the two branches of government reach and how they decide to make the cuts. If they decide to use formula funding, the effect on MISD will be considerably lessened and would bring all districts closer to being equitably funded. Of course that is not a popular idea among the districts that currently receive large amounts of money per student. Another challenge for all school districts will be the timeframe in which the legislature passes the budget. Rumors are also abounding there is very little hope of getting a budget passed by the end of the regular session in May. I have been told if they have to go into a special session, it would not begin until July 11, 2011. School districts must pass a budget for the current school year in August. If this scenario plays out, we could be faced with passing a budget and starting a school year without any idea of how much money we will receive from the state. MISD receives slightly less than 50% of its funding from the state. As you can imagine, that creates a very difficult situation.Based on the information above, I would like to take this time to share with the constituents of MISD some of the budget cuts we are making in anticipation of these funding cuts for the 2011-12 school year. This is the preliminary round of cuts and is in no way and indication of all cuts to be made in the future should the need arise. Our motto in this situation has become, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.” · Performance incentive pay $127,000· Contract for daycare director $18,000· Athletics $22,000· Band $18,000· Technology $25,000· 10% HS campus budget $6,138· 10% JH campus budget $3,350· 10% Elementary campus budget $5,294· 4th grade teaching position $47,000 (position will be filled by moving current staff)· Technology teaching position $49,000 (position will be filled by moving current staff)· Part-time custodial position $8,065· Paraprofessional positions $192,000 (eliminating 12 positions)· Office personnel $83,000 (eliminating 1.4 positions)· Curtailing bus travel on dirt roads—up to $52,000 per yearThese above mentioned cuts total approximately $650,000. We can cut another $138,000 by not buying any new buses. The process of eliminating positions will begin with eliminating all paraprofessionals and office personnel. There will be 7 ½ paraprofessional positions rehired and 7 ½ office personnel positions rehired. MISD will begin taking applications for those positions on May 1st. The 2011-12 paraprofessional and office personnel job descriptions may or may not be the same as for the 2010-11 school year. The positions that will be rehired are: · Elementary-Jr. High Library/classroom aide· Elementary classroom aide· Elementary-Jr. High Special Education aide· Part-time High School Special Education aide· Parent Involvement aide ½ time/ACE Parent Liaison aide ½ time· Jr. High English as a Second Language aide· High School English as a Second Language aide· High School Library/Instructional Technology aide· Elementary Office Assistant with Special Ed. and substitute scheduling duties· Jr. High Office Assistant with Special Ed. scheduling duties· High School Office Assistant with Special Ed. and substitute scheduling duties· Elem/Jr. High PEIMS Clerk and Registrar· HS registrar, PEIMS Clerk and District PEIMS Clerk· District Business Manager· Administration Office Manager· District Human Resources Assistant (3 days/week)The first round of interviews will be open to current district employees who wish to apply for any of the above mentioned positions and will be held on May 31st and June 1st. If the positions are not filled with current employees then interviews will be open to all other applicants. Those interviews will be held June 2nd and 3rd. All positions should be filled by June 3rd. The criteria used for hire will be 1) training, certifications and qualifications for the position; 2) performance evaluations; 3) outside duties performed such as sponsorships of organizations, etc.; and 4) attendance record during MISD tenure.I take these personnel cuts very personally and it has truly been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Unfortunately we are dealing with unprecedented and unpredictable times. According to some past superintendents, there has never been a year where we had to deal with not having at least the same amount of funding received the previous year. As always, feel free to come by and talk to me regarding any of these or other issues. I welcome your input.Current Board President, Jeff Owen, also provided a statement on the budget situation:"It is deeply distressing that MISD could be facing a budget loss of up to $1.2 million as a result of drastic cuts in state funding. We have spent a considerable amount of time deciding how to make the necessary cuts while having the least impact on our students. Of all budget cuts being planned and considered, budget cuts regarding the reduction of staff cause the most distress, in this aspect the MISD administration has a very difficult job. "As a board of trustees we understand the administration is working to maintain a level of services and programs that the district and community have grown to expect and we support the decisions that must be made."The current MISD board is composed of: Jeff Owen, Tommy Bierschwale, Shannon Worrell, Helen Dockal, Tina Cantu, Treg Hudson and Buddy Schuessler. During Monday's meeting, the May 14 school board election was cancelled due to their being no challenged races during this election cycle. At the May meeting, Schuessler and Dockal's terms will end, and they will be replaced by the unopposed candidates, Chad Lemke and James K. Schmidt.ger/apr 20 misd budget

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