• December 27, 2014

Cove ISD braces for budget cuts

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Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 4:30 am

COPPERAS COVE — Parents, teachers and administrators can expect cuts across the board as Copperas Cove Independent School District officials gear up for federal budget cuts that will be announced later this month.

Superintendent Joe Burns told school board members in a public hearing Friday the district expects to receive as little as 70 percent of the $16 million in federal Impact Aid that it received this year due to continued sequestration and the district’s number of military-affiliated students falling below the required 35 percent threshold to qualify for funding.

To account for the lost revenue, the district is proposing cuts across the board, including fewer teachers and less money for school programs, including pre-K and athletics.

Impact Aid funding is awarded based on the number of students who belong to active-duty military families and students of third-party contractors who attend Cove schools. In the current school year, 34.08 percent of students meet this designation.

“It is to my absolute dissatisfaction ... we do not meet that designation this year,” Burns said. “We are hoping to get $11 million this year. If we get $8 million, we’ll be lucky.

“We will receive money for another year or two because it is earned in reverse. But by 2015-2016, there will be little received and we have to adjust to that revenue loss.”

Burns said the district continues to have a surplus for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, but if spending continues at the same rate, the school district will go bankrupt.

The district is supposed to keep a minimum of three months of operating expenses, which is $18 million, in its fund balance.

Spending cuts

To reduce spending, the district is planning cuts across all areas including:

  • A 20 percent reduction in board and superintendent travel.
  • A freeze on districtwide spending.
  • A reduction in capital outlay.
  • A 50 percent reduction in cellphone stipends.
  • Five percent cuts to curriculum instruction and extracurricular programs including the band, the library and sports programs, which means coaches will teach more classes and fewer teachers will be hired.

Under the proposed plan, 4.5 positions will be cut from the district’s payroll.

One of the biggest blows comes to the pre-K program, which will be cut from a full day to a half day, which is all that is funded by the state.

A pre-K center at Mae Stevens Elementary will house all pre-K students with the district providing transportation.

“You don’t get to cut $6 million by reducing programs 5 percent. Staff has to be in there somewhere,” Burns said.

Full-time school personnel who are planning to resign at the end of the school year are being offered a $500 bonus if they submit their resignation letters by March 17.

Williams Ledger Elementary School Assistant Principal Billie Diaz asked when staffing guidelines would be reviewed and if more positions were expected to be cut based on the report.

Burns said teachers would not be cut due to the student-to-teacher ratio that is required. However, cuts would affect paraprofessionals and administrative staff, which is based on student enrollment.

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