Galveston ISD avoiding layoffs during budget crunch

April 6, 2011 2:43:55 PM PDT
While many school districts in our area are laying off teachers and staff, there's one district that is not. Galveston ISD isn't facing the same budget crisis and Hurricane Ike is the main reason why. Heather Chide is one of the newest teachers at Morgan Elementary. Her nerves are starting to settle now that she's learned the Galveston Independent School District won't be laying off any teachers this year.

She said, "That means I can resign a lease for next year at my apartment and be able to have a job to pay rent and bills and insurance. I'm currently getting a masters and having a job will help me continue with my education."

With school districts all around them laying off teachers, GISD will not.

"Handing out pink slips is devastating to morale and I'm pleased at GISD we're focused on kids, not worried about the budget, but focused on kids," said GISD Superintendent Larry Nichols.

After only eight months on the job, Nichols admits he was aware of the challenges left in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Decreased enrollment and tax base meant GISD was forced to cut $12 million out of the budget last summer and that's not all.

One quarter of their staff, about 250 people were laid off, leaving 1,000 current employees The HISD state budget cut is estimated at $4 million, an amount GISD says they can survive. FEMA funds are still being used to rebuild flooded campuses, meaning the general fund won't take a big hit.

With Ike reshaping GISD's budget and forcing a reduction in force, principals today say the result is a workforce that will stay intact.

Morgan Elementary Principal Rachelle Joseph said, "That is a great relief. You know, employees come to work smiling. We do feel emotionally for other districts whose teachers are being cut. We hear it at the beauty shop and we hear it from colleagues and it is detrimental."

While no teachers are being laid off, there is a hiring freeze in place.

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