Because Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told trustees they could not approve expenditures of more than $10,000 without his consent, the board was unable to negotiate an exit package with Superintendent Timothy Chargois.
In response, Chargois, who announced on Friday that he intended to resign, rescinded his resignation Monday night.
”The superintendent’s original intent was to begin negotiations with the seven-member school board at tonight’s meeting,” Jessie Haynes, special assistant to the superintendent, wrote in an e-mail to district employees and the media. “He had suggested an agreement that would allow him to resign effective Oct. 31, so that he could finished (sic) the work he has started to bring the nearly 20,000-student school district into fiscal health.”
Because of the spending cap imposed by Williams and supported by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and District Attorney Cory Crenshaw, the district also declined to make a decision on the continuation of its legal fight with the state for control of BISD.
Williams’ spending directive effectively prevented the board from approving any additional legal expenses.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the school board - minus District 6 trustee Tom Neild, who was absent - bowed to the wills of the hundreds of protestors in attendance when a motion to pass the layoffs of 109 employees failed for a lack of votes.
District 3 trustee Woodrow Reece cast the sole vote in support of the measure. District 5 trustee Mike Neil voted against the motion. Trustees Janice Brassard, Terry Williams, Zenobia Bush and board president Gwen Ambres abstained.
The audience took to its feet and cheered at the failed reduction in force, some holding bright yellow pieces of paper that read “Stop Now.”
But stopping the layoffs only prolongs a problem BISD will eventually have to face, said state-appointed conservator Fred Shafer.
BISD is broke and will not have the funds to cover the costs of its payroll next school year if the school district does not proceed with layoffs of some employees, Shafer said to the board at Monday’s meeting.
Part of the reason BISD must reduce its workforce is because the school district is overstaffed, Shafer said.
The human resources department did not adhere to its own staffing guidelines, so a reduction in force would be necessary even without the dire financial situation, he said. The district is forecast to have a $25 million budget shortfall next year.
”You have more teachers than you need,” he said, adding the district won’t have enough money to pay teachers without terminating some.
District 2 trustee Zenobia Bush said she abstained from voting because the community wants the board of managers the education commissioner plans to install to execute the reduction in force, not the current board.
”Let the board of managers come in and do the RIF,” she said.
Shafer said he thought BISD would lose more teachers if the board of managers conducted the layoffs because it would take a “harder look” at the district’s financial situation.
By waiting, BISD could delay the appeal process employees are entitled to once they have been terminated, which could now last until mid-August, Shafer said.
Reece asked Shafer to overrule the board’s failed motion and institute the reduction in force through his authority as a conservator. Shafer declined.
”You as a board, who put the district in this position, are abdicating your responsibilities. You had an opportunity to vote for the RIF, and you chose not to,” he said. “You want to put it on the back of the conservator, and you want to put it on the back of the Texas Education Agency.
”The conservator and the Texas Education Agency did not put you in this position. Your overall mismanagement of funds and poor decisions regarding the finances of your district put you in this position. Therefore, I am not overriding this motion.”
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