The probationary contracts of eight professionals in the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco Independent School District were terminated during Monday night’s regular meeting of the district’s board of trustees.
The board did not approve action items declaring financial exigency or force reductions, which held the district to terminating probationary contracts rather than term contracted employees.
The district is currently facing a potential $800,000 cut in state funding next school year.
The board needed to make a decision on contracted personnel before April 20 – 45 calender days prior to the end of instruction.
“It’s hard,” Superintendent Dr. Grace Everett said. “I mean, we’ve been working on this since February and I can’t even tell you how many different times (bookkeeper) Nora Perez and I have done and redone and changed the budget, trying to make ends meet and trying to see if we could keep the individuals that we needed.
“But the board decided to focus on probationary contract people because we weren’t going to have any kind of (legal) retaliation after that.”
Everett said she and Perez got together and worked on the budget to try to meet what the deficit was going to be without having to declare financial exigency.
“And so we were able to do that,” Everett said. “We did have to terminate a few people, which is absolutely horrid. We had really tried to see if we could reduce the budget without firing anybody but just couldn’t because it was just too much money that we weren’t going to be getting from the state.”
Everett said while there were no programs cut, the district did reduce significantly across the district.
“So in other words, every single department, every single campus, every single program was hit to some degree in all fairness,” she said.
“So everybody’s going to get hit in one way or another. We thought that would only be fair.”
Everett said of the eight positions terminated, two would likely be refilled before the start of the next school year. The remaining six positions are spread across the district’s campuses.
Ben Bolt Middle School will see the biggest cut as three of the terminated positions would not be filled. Palito Blanco Elementary School is next with two professional positions gone followed by the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School losing one.
Everett said the district will still have to review non-contracted, or at-will employees, to determine if cuts are necessary, but such cuts would not happen until later.
“But more than likely, we are going to have to let more people go,” she said.
Everett said she will meet with campus principals on May 3 to discuss the needs of the students and make a determination on additional people the district might have to let go.
Everett said that also with at-will employees, for positions where individuals are retiring or resigning, the district would be reassigning employees so they would not have to terminate them.
“We’re going to be moving people around,” she said. “We’re trying real hard not to fire anybody.”