Education
11:07 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Round Rock ISD Details $40 Million In Cuts

Facing a projected budget deficit of $61 million, the Round Rock Independent School District has explained how it plans to eliminate $40.7 million of that shortfall. A prioritized list of 64 specific cuts would reduce the deficit to about $20 million. That remaining gap would be covered by RRISD's fund balance, a savings account that holds about $200 million.

“We have planned for the worst-case scenario with these cuts and it is my hope that the legislature will come to an agreement to do the right thing for all Texas school children and provide additional dollars for public education,” RRISD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Chávez said in a statement.

The first line item in the list would reduce 32 "interventionist" positions at the elementary level. Interventionists help students who would benefit from alternative teaching strategies.

The Round Rock school district says eliminating these positions would require classroom teachers to provide those services and teach different lessons for general education, Talented and Gifted, and English as a second language student.

The savings expected from those 32 job cuts is $1.6 million. It is the second largest line item in the list that would affect campus services.

The largest cut to campuses is the elimination of more than 50 positions at middle schools. The district estimates that would save $2.5 million. It would also increase class sizes.

The two largest line items on the list of RRISD reductions are non-campus related. A plan to reduce the non-campus operating budget by at least 18.5 percent would save $6 million and reduce administrative functions to "essential department services". A proposal to cut non-campus department staffing and benefits by at least 7.5 percent would save another $5.1 million.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Chávez has pledged to take $21,000 from his own wallet to rehire one part-time teacher.  In a separate statement, Chávez said he would rather make a payment himself to guarantee it would be used to hire a teacher. 

Chávez's move continues a trend in Central Texas where school superintendents are voluntarily sharing the pain of school budget cuts. Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen has proposed eliminating her $25,000 bonus, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Leander Superintendent Bret Champion has volunteered to give up $20,000 of his pay and benefits, KVUE reports.

Chavez has faced criticism from some people in the RRISD community for not taking a pay cut, particularly in late March when the school board voted to extend his contract.