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Timothy Chargois
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BEAUMONT- The Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees presented additional cost-saving considerations offered by Dr. Timothy Chargois, Superintendent of Schools.

In addition to the recently approved Reduction in Force (RIF) that will take place by the end of this month, Chargois is reviewing a list of other unfunded line items contributing to a state of financial exigency of school district.

The RIF will trim millions of dollars from the school district’s $173 million of annual expenditures and help re-establish BISD’s dwindling fund balance that is projected to end this school year at just over $6 million.

“We have to make budget cuts in excess of $25 million for the coming school year in order to end the year in the black. Next year, we may have to make additional cuts to help shore up our fund balance and maintain an overall healthy budget,” Dr. Chargois said. “The standard for a recommended fund balance designed for maintaining a school district during disasters as hurricanes or other emergency situations is two to three months of the cost of operating. For BISD, the current recommended fund balance is $28 million to $42 million.”

According to Dr. Chargois, the suggestion of retirement incentives has been discussed. “However, at this point in time, the cost associated with funding a retirement incentive to qualifying employees would be another unplanned for and unfunded budget item.

“We have to eliminate as many surprise costs to our budget as possible to streamline,” he said. “Our operations are hurting, but I see no other choice.”

Other line items to be discussed at today’s 6 p.m. budget hearing/special meeting include:

Reducing the district’s contribution to employee health plans by $131 per month. (Currently, BISD pays $460 per month toward employees’ health insurance). This action would cut more than $3 million from the 2014-2015 budget. It would raise an employee’s contribution from $69 to $200. BISD would still contribute $330 per month toward each employee’s health insurance and the new contribution amount would still be well over the minimum required by law.

Eliminating busing for after school programs and activities for an estimated savings of $1 million.

Eliminating driver’s education, Cradles ‘N Cribs, AVID (college prep program) and other program underwritings would save the district more than $1.6 million.

Reducing other service areas, including overtime, travel, field trips, testing and the extended sick leave program could save nearly $5 million more.

These considerations will be discussed at tonight’s meeting. Trustees are considering and deciding about budget cuts that will allow the district to operate most efficiently and effectively within the revenue funding available for the coming fiscal year. Despite the budget cuts and the lack of a salary raise this year, BISD’s average teacher salary at $48,935 is still higher than any school district in Southeast Texas. The current fiscal year ends July 31, 2014.

 Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues