Beaumont ISD adds new interim CFO

Saleme (right)

The Beaumont Independent School District has hired a new school finance consultant in former assistant superintendent for finance Leroy Saleme, who will come on as interim chief financial officer to assist in the area of finance and budget preparation for the upcoming school year.

Saleme was employed in BISD as the assistant superintendent for finance from 1997 to 2000, said school district spokesperson Nakisha Myles, and has been brought in to assist the school district with developing a budget in time for the 2014-15 school year while the district faces a projected deficit in excess of $25 million.

Newly appointed Superintendent Vernon Butler has yet to acquire a full-time CFO, but Saleme will also fill that role until a permanent employee can be hired.

“I felt comfortable entering into an agreement with Mr. Saleme based on his extensive financial background and expertise,” Butler said.

Saleme said his chief priority is putting together a budget – “what we need and why.”

“I have to put it together on a line-item basis before I give it to the board,” Saleme said. “I feel like (the Board of Managers) deserve(s) to know each and every line of where their money is going. That’s the only way I know how to do it, and that’s the only way I’ve ever done it.”

Breaking down a $150-plus million budget line by line will be no easy or quick feat, Saleme said, however.

“You’re talking about probably several thousand line items – the budget will be about 150 pages thick,” he said. “There will be a lot of work involved – many weeks, but we’ve got to get it done here pretty quick.”

Saleme said he is working toward having a budget ready for the Aug. 18 Board of Managers budget workshop, although a completely finalized version of the budget is not due to the Texas Education Agency until Aug. 31.

“Right now, getting together a budget is the most pressing thing I’ve been tasked with doing,” Saleme said. “I want this board and superintendent to be happy with what they are going to adopt. I want them to understand it.”

According to the finance consultant, presenting a budget to the Board of Managers will not be easy due to the district’s excessive expenditures over anticipated revenues.

“I can’t imagine moving forward with a budget that doesn’t address (the $25 million budget shortfall) we’re currently facing,” he said. “Personnel is going to be an issue – sooner or later. However, certified classroom teachers would be the last thing we’d cut. Travel, supplies, conferences – those things would need to be cut before we ever cut into anything that affects the classroom directly.”

Nothing is off the table as to what cuts will be made to departments line by line, and hard choices will have to be made at some point, Saleme lamented, but “with the support of the community, our board, and the qualified and capable staff we still have on board, we will come up with something to get things on the right track at BISD – no doubt.”