March 28, 2011

Keller school district cuts about 200 jobs

Trustees are considering holding an election to raise taxes in the summer, not the fall.

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KELLER -- School trustees may call for an election to raise taxes sooner rather than later.

At a budget workshop Monday night, district officials discussed $16 million in first-round cuts, including eliminating about 200 jobs, and $10 million to $16 million more they would cut if the election were to fail.

Trustee Craig Allen said he would like to see the election perhaps as early as June 4.

"I think this is front and center on people's mind. I think now is the time," Allen said.

In previous discussions, officials talked about having the election in September. Allen said the earlier timing would give administrators and employees more time to plan for reductions before the budget year starts if the bid did not pass.

A successful tax ratification election would allow the district to levy an additional 13 cents per $100 in assessed property value and would raise about $16 million. The current rate for daily operations is at the $1.04 cap mandated by the state.

Trustees voted to cut about 200 positions as part of the first round of reductions. All contract employees affected will be notified by April 18, district attorney Amanda Bigbee said.

Many of those staff members have already been informed, she said.

Bigbee was hopeful that not many teachers would be laid off.

Some 58 employees in targeted contract positions accepted resignation incentives of $2,250, and 36 other contract employees received $750 resignation incentives. Sixteen noncontract employees took $500 offers.

District officials will have another budget workshop April 7 to discuss second-round cuts and the possible election.

Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231

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