Heading into the second year of the biennium, Peaster Independent School District began this school year at a deficit.
But after a bit of shuffling and adjusting, the new proposed budget, which was approved during an August board meeting, has a much smaller debt than before.
“Based on the state funding that we received, we had about a $719,000 deficit,” Peaster superintendent Matt Adams said. “But we’ve been able to cut almost half a million out of the budget.”
The cut brings the district’s total deficit to about $228,000.
Adams said a big portion of the cutting came from personnel.
“We had to absorb some positions that were vacated through retirements or attrition, and there was a handful of positions that were temporary that we couldn’t extend contracts to,” he said.
In total, 10 positions were cut through the various methods, and other steps were taken as well for cost-cutting techniques, including lowering utility costs.
“Mainly what we started doing last year, and it seems to be working well, was retrofitting older lighting with more energy-efficient lighting,” Adams said. “We started that last fall and in the spring, we saw some pretty good savings.”
While the staff has taken a hit in numbers, Adams said the district’s programs hadn’t been affected by cuts.
“Fortunately, we’ve been able to maintain. The class sizes [per staff] are a little larger than last year, but no programs were cut,” he said.
In addition, board members were also able to approve a pay increase of about 1.5 percent for all staff.
After massive funding cuts to Texas public schools more than a year ago, Peaster and other districts across the state are now bracing for the start of the next Texas Legislative session, which begins Jan. 8.
“You’re getting mixed information out of Austin right now,” Adams said. “You just never really know what [the Texas Legislature] is going to do.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a good session this time around.”