Job cuts possible in Galveston ISD

January 21, 2009 3:27:36 PM PST
Galveston Independent School District is preparing to deliver some bad news to employees. The district is hurting from a big budget shortfall and a major loss of students after Hurricane Ike. Job cuts may be necessary. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

While these students figure out math problems, their superintendent has her own equations to solve.

"We're still down about 2,100 students, which is about one-fourth of our population, which means we need about one-fourth less of our staff members," said Galveston ISD Superintendent Lynne Cleveland.

Since Hurricane Ike, approximately 2,100 students have not returned. Combined with a declining tax base and an estimate $65 million in school repairs, the Galveston school district is forced to consider drastic cutbacks.

Specifically, the superintendent is proposing a buyout, where employees would receive a portion of their salary, based on years of service. It's called a voluntary reduction of their workforce.

Right now, there are about 11,000 employees. At least 200 resignations are needed. The deadline is March 6. After that, the school district will consider involuntary reductions.

Since 2004, GISD has been on a steady student enrollment decline, from 11,000 to about 5,800 students.

Schools are funded by the state based on student enrollment. As a result, next year, money from the state is expected to decrease about $16 million. Regardless of the reason why, one principal says cutbacks on staff will make a difficult situation more challenging.

"A lot of these people, I hired out of college and have been with us 10, 15, and in some cases, more than 20 years," said Principal Bill Heuman. "Any time you have a staff that has come together like that and you're forced to reduce the numbers, it's going to hurt everyone."

The proposal by the superintendent was expected to go before the school board Wednesday night. The superintendent tells us this is a measure she's been trying to avoid, looking for any other means of cost cutting. But Cleveland says she has no choice.

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