SISD terminates 14 due to budget cuts

The Sweetwater Independent School District (SISD) Board of Trustees met for its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, June 20, 2011 at the Administration Building.On the consent agenda, the board approved the minutes from the meeting held on May 16, the financial statements and bills from the previous month and the investment statement. Approval was also given to accept one of the three delinquent tax lot bids received by the board; the other two were denied as they did not meet the minimum requirement.The PEPPSA Director contract was also approved by the board, as well as the proposed local policy changes for EHBB, which deals with the district's gifted and talented program.The updates were prompted by some word changes in regards to testing and acceptance of students into Sweetwater ISD's gifted and talented program. The most notable change, presented by SISD Assistant Superintendent Kathy Smartt, was in regard to placement of transfer students.Now, a student who was in a gifted and talented program at his previous school will be placed in the Sweetwater program if the criteria for placement compares between the schools. If the requirements are not similar, the student will be tested for placement as soon as testing is available.In addition, several personnel changes were reported at the meeting. For professional personnel, four new hires and 10 reassignments within the district were presented. There were six resignations; however, two within that category will still work for SISD but will contracted through EIC (Educational Independent Contractors).Regarding paraprofessional changes in personnel, there were two retirements, three reassignments and four resignations. And, as the positions are no longer available in the school district, 14 terminations were reported.The Superintendent's Report shared some good news concerning tax collections, in that $6,400,588.68 have been collected. This brings the total to 96.74%, now reaching above the targeted 96%. A positive enrollment report was also given, noting that SISD ended the year with 2,220 students. The number comes in higher than last year's total and was 50 students over original projections.Furthermore, a discussion on legislative matters regarding educational issues was held. Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent travel schedule to consider a 2012 presidential run have left about 60 education matters yet to be approved. Two of the biggest bills needing conclusion are in regards to funding and cuts in funding for the district for the next two years. Most schools will endure a similar percentage cut for the first year, while the second year's decrease will be based upon target revenue, in which SISD will have a smaller cut from being close to the state's average.Other issues still pending are about the state's new standardized testing which will begin this fall and matters on contracts/hiring. The board is hoping for some conclusion on the matters, which will have to be considered and approved by the June 29-30 legislative deadline. The board hopes to have more information at next month's meeting once the legislative decisions are made, in which budget planning for the 2011-12 school year can move forward.Also presented to the Trustees were results from the past year's drug testing. 1,193 tests were given to middle school and high school students in SISD and only 41 positive tests were reported. However, the positive tests do not equate to 41 students but only represent a number of students who failed multiple drug tests.