Eagle Mountain-Saginaw schools to cut $5 million from budget

Posted Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- The Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district is slashing $5 million from next year's budget and cutting about 45 positions, superintendent Jim Chadwell said Thursday.

Chadwell, addressing a crowd at a forum on the state of Texas education, said that employees were told on Monday of the reduction-in-force plans, a first for the school district. He hopes that because the district is fast-growing, most of the affected employees will be able to get other jobs within the school district.

Representatives from four North Texas school districts spoke and answered questions at a two-hour forum sponsored by the Tarrant County League of Women Voters. The event was a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the impact of the Legislature's 2011 cut of $5.5 billion in state education assistance, standardized testing requirements, unfunded state and federal mandates and options for students not bound for college.

The educators said tight budgets prompted them to make cuts in areas such as gifted and talented teachers, library aides and counseling staff.

"The work doesn't go away. There are just less people to do it," said Jerry Burkett, Grand Prairie school district's director of college and career readiness partnerships.

Class sizes, too, are getting bigger. Hurst-Euless-Bedford schools, for example, asked the state for 105 waivers to rules capping school class sizes, up from about 15 in previous years, said Faye Beaulieu, a school board member in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district.

For next year, Fort Worth school administrators do not expect to make program cuts, but project an operating budget shortfall of about $27 million. That will have to be covered by the district's fund balance savings, said deputy superintendent Hank Johnson, who was not on the panel but was in attendance. The educators noted a difference between the levels of state funding per child between districts.

The funding level is $5,333 per student for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw schools, $5,084 for Hurst-Euless-Bedford schools, $4,794 in Fort Worth schools and $5,034 in Grand Prairie schools.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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