DESOTO (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of North Texas teachers are out of a job. Their positions in the DeSoto Independent School District were cut to make up a school budget deficit.
After months of delaying a decision, it came down to a vote at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, more than seven hours after the DeSoto ISD school board meeting began.
The cuts include 72 teaching positions, 16 administration jobs, and 10 support staff.
District leaders say the majority of employees impacted were aware of the possibility, and that the school board tried to give people time to decide to retire or resign.
”This was the hardest decision any trustee, any administrator, any person in our district had to make tonight and we’ve pushed it off as long as we could until we got it pristine for our people,” said Dr. D’Andre Weaver, Superintendent for DeSoto ISD.
DeSoto serves around 9,400 students and needs to make up a budget deficit of approximately $17 million – a problem the current administration blames on past leadership.
The teacher and other staff cuts will save the district $13 million, according to officials.
“I’m confident that although we took some tough action tonight, we took the action that student achievement requires. You can expect that moving forward our [chief financial officer], our superintendent, will be great fiduciaries of our tax payer dollars in DeSoto,” said Carl Sherman, Jr., current President of the Board of Trustees.
The total number of positions cut stands at 98, as of Tuesday morning, but district officials say it could go up if more employees accept buyouts.
DeSoto ISD officials say they would like to keep the door open for those who have already resigned to come back in other positions, though, once the district is financially stable – but there is no hard timeline as of now.
DeSoto resident Shirley Shepler keeps three signs posted in her yard.
Her house sits across the street from Northside Elementary School in DeSoto.
“Save Our School-Don’t Close Northside Elementary, “ the signs read. The posting is an appeal to school district officials. The board previously voted to close Northside, calling the school underutilized and outdated.
The closure would also assist in reducing the budget deficit.
The 48-year-old campus has 382 students enrolled, but Shepler says the district should focus on fiscal accountability, instead of closing schools and cutting teaching jobs. “What I hear from everyone is frustrating. They use the word transparency, and moving forward. Well how can you move forward when the thieves who did it haven’t been held accountable,” Shepler said.
DeSoto ISD trustees will also consider raising property taxes. Public hearings will be held in June.