Crowley school administrators single out job cuts to close budget gap

CROWLEY -- School administrators have identified staff reductions that will be made in response to a $6 million budget shortfall. At Thursday night's meeting, trustees formalized their declaration of financial exigency, announced last month, which allows them to lay off employees despite contracts.

"This is a harsh process," President Randall Kahan said, "and no one at this table wants anything to do with it."

The district's projected budget shortfall for fiscal 2011 includes a $3 million deficit carried over from the current fiscal 2010 budget.

Staff cuts will include two central office coordinators and a special-education supervisor. Other cuts include 21 elementary teachers, two middle school teachers, 101/2 high school teaching positions, and 121/2 strategically based teacher positions.

Also targeted are a dyslexia specialist, 11 instructional technology teachers in elementary grades, a diagnostician position, a student information systems coordinator, a math coordinator/secretary position, an elementary science coordinator and an ombudsman. The Crowley Regional Day School Program for the Deaf is scheduled to take the biggest hit -- the jobs of a coordinator/supervisor and three teachers -- because Mansfield pulled out of the program to join its closer neighbor, Arlington.

The program includes deaf students from Alvarado, Burleson, Cleburne, Everman and Joshua.

Classes are held at Crowley's Deer Creek Elementary School, H.F. Stevens Elementary, Crowley Ninth Grade Campus and Crowley High School. Of the 35 students expected in the program next year, 16 will be Crowley students.

"We were saddened by it, but it was our reality," said Carmelynn Bragiel, Crowley's director of special education.

Mansfield's students represented 20 percent of the shared program.

Class sizes to rise

Eighty-four percent of the current $104 million budget goes to paying the district's 2,200 employees, some 950 of whom are teachers.

The district expects to recapture $5.3 million through the districtwide staff cuts. Central office administrators know their fates, but teachers and paraprofessionals haven't been informed yet since their contracts come up for renewal in March.

Class sizes at all levels above fourth grade will be increased in the 15,000-student district.

During a work session, interim Superintendent Dan Powell discussed the possibility of opening the two intermediate campuses that are finished but not occupied because of the lack of operating money.

The district's Career and Technology Center is set to open next year using mostly reassigned staff.

SHIRLEY JINKINS, 817-390-7657