School board to meet at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22

Michael Chartier, The Premont Journal

With Premont ISD facing a $2,684,591 budget deficit, the picture is more gloomy than originally thought. While it was reported last week in an example that principals in Premont earned an average of about $40,000 in 06-07, in fact, principals earned nearly $60,000 and will earn at least as much this year.

While the school board is set to reconvene Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m., Garza said he is going line by line to find a way to decrease the budget.

"Because of the huge factors that are against us, it's going to be a difficult task," Garza said.

Salaries, which make up the majority of the budget, will find little resolve. Instead, expect programs and equipment to get cut. Garza cited the budget asking for a new school bus and upgrades to the science lab as examples of money that won't get spent.

"You cannot really cut salaries, they have to make at least what they made last year," Garza said referring to teachers and administrators.

Garza, who makes just over $78,000 annually, also said that electricity and fuel are major budget concerns. Premont ISD's five-year electricity contract ended last May, and the new deal calls for the district to pay nearly double the previous kilowatt rate.

"That's going to be a major part of our budget," Garza said. "Fuel costs are outrageous."

Premont is also sufferring from a decline in property values and a loss of ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funding, some of which Garza hopes is supplemented by the state.

"We don't have the kids that we used to have," Garza said.

Still, Sept. 1 is looming and Premont ISD continues to face a major budget deficit. School Board President Olga Ramirez remains on a three- week vacation and is set to return Aug. 20.

While the board waits to hear from the district, Garza noted there will probably be many meetings between Aug. 22 and Sept. 1 to finalize the budget.

"I want every student to have a book," board member Carmela Garcia said about the budget concerns.