Important Message From Interim Superintendent And Board President
Dear BISD Staff,
We know there are many concerns and rumors in our community concerning the impact of decreased state funding to public education and BISD. Because of the foresight of our board of trustees, we are pleased to say that BISD is in better shape today than many districts. Though the potential cuts in revenue present some unique challenges, BISD feels we are better prepared to weather the storm than many others.
It will be several months before the final results from Austin are released; however, our consultants believe BISD's funding from Austin is likely to be cut between $10 million and $12 million per year over the next two years, possibly more. This is significant, but if the cuts from Austin are more, it poses some serious issues for the quality of education of our students.
The Board is reviewing options to help cover the proposed reduction in state funding. At this time, our goal is to handle any reduction in staff through attrition (retirements and resignations), rather than layoffs, and to minimize the impact on the classroom. In addition, the Board believes the district can handle reduction in state revenue by:
· Using part of the district's reserve fund to balance the budget;
· Providing no salary increases for the 2011-12 school year;
· Increasing class sizes in grades 5-12;
· Possibly increasing class sizes if current legislation changes from 22:1 in K-4 to a campus average of 22:1 (The legislature is likely to relax this requirement.); and
· Considering declaring a Financial Exigency (Emergency). At this time, the Board does not anticipate exercising the powers authorized by such a declaration. However, we want to put measures in place in case it becomes necessary to do a Reduction in Force (RIF) at a future time.
What can you do? We encourage you to contact and request your legislators to make equitable funding between school districts a priority. The current school finance plan penalizes BISD for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In fact, BISD is rated as one of the top ten financially efficient districts based on the state's measurement done by Education Resource Group (ERG). (Learn More) Each year, the district receives hundreds to thousands of dollars less per student than other districts in northeast Tarrant County. Why are BISD students worth less than those in HEB, Grapevine-Colleyville, Southlake or Northwest? This inequity equates to tens of millions of dollars less for BISD, yet we continue to provide quality education that result in students continuing to show improvements over ever-changing state standards. (Learn More) As one of the districts funded below the state average, BISD is accustomed to operating under tight budgets, and we have an outstanding record of efficiency. This coming school year will not be business as usual, and we must be prepared to tighten our belts even more than before. Our Administration and Board are collaborating to find the best solutions to address these issues.
As part of our efficiency, BISD maintains staffing guidelines that equitably allocate the number of teachers, support staff and administrators on each campus based on campus enrollment. The district is below the state average in the number and cost for central administration. BISD will continue to prioritize staffing our classrooms.
What can you do? Encourage state leaders to address inequity at the top target revenue districts first, not those below the state average, like BISD. Districts that are financially efficient, like BISD, and are in the bottom quarter of target revenues, like BISD, should be spared from the severe, across-the-board cuts being considered.
We are seeking your help in identifying ways the district could streamline expenditures and yet maintain our quest for student improvement. We have developed an online form at www.birdvilleschools.net/staff for you to share your recommendations. Though we are not requiring names or e-mail addresses, we ask that you consider including it on the form. So, if there are questions, we can contact you for additional information.
Thank you for all that you do for our students and for your commitment to BISD. Each of you is a valued member of the Birdville family.
President, Board of Trustees
Jay Thompson, Ph.D.