Questions & Answers
Q: Have all the cuts been made in personnel or can we expect more?
A: At the April 5 meeting, the Board of Trustees took action in renewing teacher and administrator contracts as well as terminating employees. Those who have been terminated have received notification. All other employees will receive a contract to renew. No other personnel cuts are planned at this time. Now the district will wait on Austin to approve a budget.
Q: Is the new staffing level sustainable for two years or will there be another round of cuts next year?
A: In short, we don’t know if it is sustainable for two years because the Legislature has yet to tackle the real issue: public education funding formulas. Right now the discussion is only on the budget and not on how Texas schools will be funded. Depending on changes to the funding formula, more cuts or changes may be necessary in the future if a sustainable system is not put in place.
Q: Will teachers that resign or have been terminated be considered for rehire?
A: Yes, if money is available when Austin completes its budget. Staff members affected in Phase III will be considered first should money be available to restore their positions. Those employees in Phase II will be considered next for any vacancies that arise through the attrition process. Other employees affected will not be considered for rehire.
Q: Will staff be expected to go multiple years without an increase in pay?
A: Again, that is dependent on Austin. With no word on how Texas schools will be funded, there is no way to know if a salary freeze is just an immediate necessity or a long term outlook.
Q: Are teachers that were terminated eligible for unemployment benefits?
A: Employees will have to contact the Texas Workforce Commission to determine if they qualify for unemployment benefits.
Q: Did the Board of Trustees take action on the reduction of employee local days (personal and sick)?
A: No action has been taken as of this date. But the Budget Action Committee recommendation of reducing the number of local (sick) days to employees from 5 to 3 is part of the cost saving plan to overcome the budget deficit. At this time, the Board is counting on the savings from the local day adjustment. Personal leave will remain the same as required by law (5 days)
Q: Why didn’t they let all first year teachers go across the district instead of letting some second year teachers go at one campus and a first year teacher stay at another campus?
A: Staffing formulas were applied to each individual campus to avoid as much employee turnover and re-assignments as possible. In the past, the staffing formula adjustments were made by Dr. Powers and the campus principals in May, when attrition could handle any staff right-sizing. However, this year the process occurred in March because of the anticipated budget shortfall. As a result, it was possible that after applying the staffing formula to each campus there were some second and third year probationary teachers let go.
Q: When will teachers on the surplus list know what campus they will be at next year?
A: Based on retirements and resignations, staff will be notified of their reassignments as soon as possible. We recognize the importance of expediting the reassignments; unfortunately, it may take several months due to the legislative timeline.
Q: Can the district institute a furlough in order to save money?
A: For individuals under a teacher contract (teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses), the answer is no. The days worked by non-exempt and salaried employees could be reduced. However, most of these employees will more than likely be affected by the salary reductions in the BAC report.
Q: When will we know if those not tied to the teacher-salary schedule will have a 1%, 2%, or 3% pay cut?
A: At this time, the pay cut proposal (which would affect 635 employees) is only one option the Board of Trustees is considering for budget development under the worst-case scenario (Phase 3). They have not made a determination to exercise that option. The final budget does not have to be approved until August 31.
Q. Why are pay cuts of 1%, 2% or 3% being considered for some employees and not for all employees?
A: State law does not allow the teacher salary schedule to be reduced or cut, only frozen; however, there is no law prohibiting pay cuts to other employees.