San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 24th, 2011
Confronting state budget mess, San Marcos CISD plans to cut 14 positions

Texas State Teacher Association representative Grace Mueller, a middle school English teacher, addresses trustees at Monday's workshop on forthcoming budget cuts. Mueller said proposed eliminated positions seem to hit elementary school instruction disproportionately. Other critics took issue with the proposed elimination of three elementary art teachers. PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS


Faced with anticipated cuts in state funding of at least $4.3 million, San Marcos CISD officials are considering cutting 14 positions before next academic year but think they can do it without layoffs.

Proposed cuts to 2011-2010
San Marcos CISD budget
Eliminate excess in current budget $1,000,000
Savings from paid off equipment lease $350,000
Staff elementary schools at 22-to-1 $400,000
Staff middle schools at 26-to-1 $300,000
Reduce consultant costs $100,000
Eliminate three G&T teachers positions $150,000
Eliminate three parent liaison positions $75,000
Eliminate three art teacher positions $150,000
Stop funding Family Learning Center $165,000
Freeze salaries districtwide $100,000
Move administration and clerical to four day summer work week $200,000
Eliminate staff travel reimbursements $200,000
Eliminate three administrative clerk positions $90,000
Eliminate unneeded software contract $50,000
Increase facilities rental rate $10,000
Eliminate one technologist position $60,000
Eliminate one instructional coach position $60,000
(less cost of additional high school positions) (234,500)

About 200 people poured into a middle school cafeteria for board of trustee meeting on Monday to hear administrators’ first forecast for what a $20 billion-place state biennium shortfall means for the local school district.

Mike Abild told trustees they should expect a 7.5 percent reduction in state funding, about $4.3 million, and outlined cuts totaling $3.3 million. The rest of the shortfall can be met by drawing on the district’s nearly $25.9 million in reserves. Unless the state withdraws more funding than is currently expected — and no one will know until the budget is hammered out, quite likely in a special session — the district will not need to lay off employees to cut the positions recommended for elimination, Abild said.

“That is something that we view as a last resort,” Abild said.

Under Abild’s plan, the district would restructure its gifted and talented program resulting in the reduction of three teacher positions (for savings of $150,000) as well as eliminate three parent liasion positions ($75,000), three elementary level art teachers ($150,000), three administrative clerks ($90,000), a currently unfilled technologist position ($60,000) and an instruction coach ($60,000).

Abild proposed savings by increasing teacher-to-student ratio targets to 22-to-1 in elementary schools and 26-to-1 in middle schools, except for fifth grade which would remain at 25-to-1. The adjusted staffing levels would save the district $750,000, Abild said.

Other proposed cuts include freezing salaries, putting administrative and clerical staff on a four-day workweek in the summer and reconfiguring implementation of the career academy concept at San Marcos High School such that it cost $234,500 instead of the estimated $493,000.

The proposal does not cover reductions in state funding for the 2012-2013 school year, Abild said, and additional reductions may be necessary if legislators reduce funding further than expected.

A half-dozen or so educators, including teachers’ associations representatives, took the podium and, often to cheers from the audience, suggested that the cuts hit instruction, as opposed to administration, the hardest.

The proposal to dilute teacher-to-student ratios at the elementary level “may sound good at first but it’s not when you take a look at the averages,” said Grace Mueller, a middle school teacher and the local Texas State Teachers Association steward.

Given the chance to weigh in on the proposals, trustees had few comments or questions except for Judy Allen’s observation that “I don’t think we’re in as bad a shape as other districts around us.”

Indeed, Hays CISD officials are expected shortfalls that could rise to the $12 million range and plans to cut 100 jobs, including 31 classroom teacher positions. That translates to raising that district’s preferred student-to-teacher ratio, currently 18-to-1 at its three poorest schools and 20-to-1 at other elementary schools. Hays is considering raising the cap to 20-1 at the low socio-economic schools and 22-1 at the other elementary schools.

San Marcos CISD trustees on Monday also approved a buyout program of sorts for employees whose positions are on the chopping block. To help get accurate staff projections earlier, the district will make a lump sum payment equal to five percent of the employee’s annual salary if he declares his intention to leave the job before March 21.

The San Marcos district is facing its budget quandry without the benefit of a permanent superintendent. Patty Shafer resigned the job effective Dec. 31 but is remaining at the district’s helm in an interim role at the reported fee of $1,549 a day.

Email Email | Print Print


3 thoughts on “Confronting state budget mess, San Marcos CISD plans to cut 14 positions

  1. It was pointed out at the meeting, that our administrators make $20,000 MORE than state average,our principals/asst principals make $2000 more than state average and our teachers make $1200 LESS than state average. How about administrators take a $20,000 income cut and NOT cut teaching positions or increase class sizes?

    Also district employees were given 5% salary incentive to take retirement or put in resignations. How many of our administrators are of/or past retirement age and will take this offer?

    The $100,000 cut for consultant fees? $100,000 out of what?? I understand our district has been paying New Mexico Balanced Literacy consultants for over 6 years now while our own district’s instructional coaches are being hired as Balanced Literacy consultants by other districts.

    Why are our administrators making so much money if they are making these kinds of decisions? Didn’t SMCISD make the news for spending the most per student with the poorest results?

  2. “Patty Shafer resigned the job effective Dec. 31 but is remaining at the district’s helm in an interim role at the reported fee of $1,549 a day.”

    Is this a typo? We could save a lot of money by ending this “interim” contract!

  3. 14 cuts is extremely mild given the cuts at other regional ISDs. San Marcos seems to have planned quite well.

    I wish it wasn’t the art teachers that had to be cut though. Art & music are two of the most valuable subjects yet they’re always the first to get cut. Much better to pay coaches extra to teach boys how to bang their heads into each other and still only win 1 or 2 games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *