School Supt. Rick Albritton’s plan will offer a limited number of teachers, support personnel, and administrators 10 percent of their annual salary to notify the district by April 1 they are leaving. The offer doesn’t apply to hourly employees.
Albritton said that even if the maximum number of 35 employees took the offer, and the school re-filled all the vacated teaching positions by hiring lower-paid younger teachers, the district would still save more than $500,000 over the $160,000 it would pay out in incentive money.
He said the plan was not for probationary employees, but instead for term contract workers who were already planning to leave. So “we’re not trying to pay anybody off.”
Albritton’s plan would limit the number of workers accepting the plan to 20 persons with 20 or more years experience; ten with 11-20 years experience; and five with 0-10 years experience.
He said teachers with 25 years experience earn about $53,000, and would thus receive $5,300 to leave.
Not all the vacated positions would necessarily remain unfilled. For example, the school must fill mathematics teacher positions, Albritton said, and “if we cut 35 teachers—and I’ll say professional support as well. . .you’re going to see our level of service decrease.”
But he said the option other than the early resignation incentive was to reduce staff through attrition, and selective reduction based on performance.
Meantime, Albritton said, the school will reduce its staff; shut down school buildings for the summer, turning thermostats up to 85 or 90 degrees; and shut down all district computers by 6 p.m., “a nice statement we’re trying to do everything we can to be efficient.”
Albritton said he now estimates that Gilmer ISD will lose $1.3-1.5 million of its current state aid due to the state’s budget shortfall, and that the total cut is estimated at $1.3 million in 2012, $1.5 million in 2013. But he said the incentive plan “would allow us to have a better handle” if the reduction proves “worse” than expected.
He said he hoped to “have at least our expenditures in early June,” but doesn’t expect to have the revenue figures until July or August. Pay raises for GISD employees in the 2011-12 budget will “be an extreme long shot,” he added.
One bill in the Texas Legislature would cut the district’s funding by $3.3 million, the superintendent said, but added he didn’t expect it to pass.
Albritton also said Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas House of Representatives had agreed to tap part of the state’s “rainy day fund,” thus reducing the possible shortfall for education funding from $10 billion to $4.6 or $4.7 billion. Thus, the potential reduction in state aid to schools would now affect 35,000 teachers rather than 100,000, he said.
However, should GISD’s budget end up reduced by $2.2 million, he said, “we’re going to have to figure out how to do it (function) with what we’ve got.”
Board President Todd Tefteller meantime said that someone resigning could save someone else’s job.
However, Board Member Jeff Rash, who cast the lone vote against Albritton’s plan, said the school could lose employees through attrition without paying incentives, and “I don’t want to lose 20-year good veteran teachers.”
Said Tefteller, “We want every good teacher to stay.” He noted the early buyout program was voluntary.
Tefteller joined Board Members Greg Laney, Diedra Camp, Mike Tackett and Mark Skinner in approving Albritton’s proposal. Trustee Gloria King was absent.
In a related move Monday night, the board approved without dissent a $41,500 bid from TCMC of Tyler to enclose a pavillion at the elementary school--a move which Albritton said would allow reducing staff at the elementary, intermediate, and junior high campuses, “especially in the elective area.”
He said he believed he could eliminate “easily four positions at the elementary” and move those persons into positions that others leave. Albritton said he would rather cut back in places not directly involving the classroom.
In other major business Monday night, trustees changed the school calendar to add class days on May 30 (Memorial Day) and May 31. Albritton said the school had to extend the school year by those two days to make up for days that school closed recently due to winter weather.
He said the school may have some Memorial Day programs, and that high school seniors (who graduate May 27) are exempt from attending the two class days.
He said that if the students came back after a prolonged holiday (which would include Memorial Day), it would hurt attendance.
The board also accepted a bid of $500 on a lot foreclosed for delinquent taxes in Glenwood Acres, and rejected a bid of $200 each on three such lots there.