ARLINGTON -- Three days after administrators laid out $15.3 million in potential budget cuts, school trustees Thursday talked about additional cuts that could include laying off teachers in their first three years of service.
Arlington's share of a proposed $10 billion reduction in state education funding would amount to $35 million, about a 14 percent drop for the district. Combined with a previously projected $13.3 million budget deficit, the district is now faced with a $48 million shortfall.
At least 200 people, mostly school employees and parents, packed the 100-seat boardroom to show concern about budget cuts.
They were not allowed to speak because the agenda didn't have time for it, but board President Gloria Pena said a meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Monday that will include time for public comments.
The belt-tightening outlined by Superintendent Jerry McCullough on Monday included eliminating 390 positions. The focus now is on subsequent cuts, most of which could come from the district's 779 so-called probationary teachers, who are in their first, second and third years and who account for nearly $40 million in payroll costs.
Trustee Wayne Ogle urged the board to consider calling a tax ratification election before making drastic job cuts.
Raising the property tax by 13 cents to the maximum of $1.17 per $100 of property value would generate $33 million, officials said.
"I don't want to make these cuts before we've gone to the citizens of the community and given them the opportunity to decide on the funding level of their district," Ogle said. "Call the election in the fall. If you lose, you make the cuts."
The comment sparked sustained applause from the audience.