In a standing room only meeting for Kountze ISD, it took board members 30 minutes to discuss the future and determination of budget items in what is being called a shortfall for the district.
The board heard two motions in a first reading and approved of them quickly as the heat of the budget quickly looms over the entire district.
Kountze is feeling the pain of a $902,000 shortfall and more could be felt next year if areas of concern are not addressed.
Between state and federal money that is being cut from funding, Kountze has become one of the many in the state that are in dire straits.
On top of the budget shortfall, Kountze board members accepted the resignation of Superintendent Kevin Weldon effective on Tuesday. Reese Briggs is currently serving as interim superintendent until further notice.
“We are feeling the strains of finances with cuts by the state,” Briggs said prior to the meeting.
Briggs addressed the board with contributing factors to the shortfall being a decrease of $410,864 by the state and $387,151 by federal standards.
He also noted that $373,000 had been decreased in July 2012 through local taxes due to value decreases.
According to Briggs, in September 2011, Kountze had a balanced budget of $2.9 million and that amount fell in one year to $2.1 million.
In a reading of the TexPool account by Briggs at Monday’s meeting, Kountze ISD remained at $2.2 million.
The school is also expected to lose as much as $130,000 from the state due to a decrease in student enrollment by 32 students. The school district would lose that money in the next school year.
The board proposed several items for consideration in an effort to reduce costs and two motions were passed in a first reading.
The elimination of the assistant superintendent position beginning in the 2013-14 school year as well as the combination of director of maintenance and transportation coordinator positions are two areas to be considered.
Other considerations are to merge school services among campuses including sharing facilities between the middle school and high school.
Staffing would be reduced to a ratio of 25:1 at Kountze High School and Kountze Middle School. Staffing at the elementary and intermediate campuses would be reduced to a 22:1 ratio.
Paid non-contractual days would be eliminated and reduced from five days to two days. Stipends would be adjusted as well.
Board members also agreed on eliminating any air conditioner usage in the gym after school and during the summer. Recycled air could be used at night.
“With the decision to move forward by the board, I have met with principals on the campuses to discuss things further,” Briggs said. “We are going to look at all the options including all staffing areas and continue to look at the budget of course.
“I feel that this is the beginning of us moving forward at Kountze ISD,” added Briggs. “I know that these are very difficult decisions but sadly a large percentage of issues we have to address begin with staffing analysis.”