Proposed budget is nearly $3M in the red

Michael Chartier, The Premont Journal

According to a preliminary budget proposal, the Premont Independent School District has many cuts to make, without such the district would face a $2,684,591 deficit.

The working budget showed expenditures of $8,433,744 and revenue of $5,746,153, as presented during last week's school board meeting.

"Please do not hold us to this, it's not gospel," Superintendent David Garza said.

Salaries may be the largest adjustment to be made, Garza said, adding that all salaries were worked up in accordance to the scales from last year.

For example, Premont principals proposed salaries last year ranged from $57,500 to $59,500 while their actual salaries ranged from $38,333.36 to $40,867.46. Similarly, recommended salaries for '07-'08 range from $57,500 to $60,500.

"Our salaries are very top heavy," Premont Business Manager Phyllis Carlile said.

Carlile added that some of the deficit is due to state revenues, which are down for Premont.

She cited the district also loses money when students who might qualify for free lunch, do not take advantage of it.

"I think they're pretty proud, they don't want the free meal," Carlile said. "It has a negative effect on the school."

Carlile also noted losses in federal funding and per capita and state foundation funds are down.

"We will not be getting any E-rate," Carlile said. "A lot of it has to do with people not taking advantage of the programs."

It was also discussed that the decrease in enrollment hurts Premont with funding. Board member Carmela Garcia talked about Premont at one time (1951) having eight first-grade classes with 20 to 30 students each. Premont is slated to have two first-grade classes for this calendar year.

With the budget needing reducing by the end of the month, board member Olga Ramirez, who is currently on a three-week vacation, said several times she wanted to be a part of the process. However, there were no plans for the board to meet before Aug. 20.

"We can't wait till the 20th to go over this," Garcia said.

Cantu said he'd wait and see how hard Garza and Carlile worked before worrying too much, adding that if necessary, the board will meet every day Aug. 20 and beyond.

"By law we can't spend more than we have," board member Mark Cantu said.

While the entire board was concerned with the proposed budget deficit, member Arturo Arellano put it simply.

"We don't cut, that's his (Garza) job to cut," Arellano said.

Garza said he's confident the job will get done.

"I'm sure we're going to be able to get down to where we need to get down to," Garza said.