RIF measure fails in BISD

photo by Kevin King

The Beaumont Independent School District’s proposed Reduction in Force (RIF) failed to garner support from the school district’s Board of Trustees when the matter of cutting more than 100 teaching positions came to vote Monday, June 30. One board trustee, Tom Neild, was out of town for the meeting. Trustee Mike Neil voted in opposition of the RIF, trustee Woodrow Reece voted in support of the RIF and the remainder of the board – Gwen Ambres, Zenobia Bush, Terry Williams and Janice Brassard – abstained from casting a vote.

Emotions were high in the audience as the Board of Trustees members deliberated the firing of educators and administrators from all parts of the district, with the crowd erupting in cheers as the RIF failed to pass. Reece tried to cut the victory party short, asking Texas Education Agency- appointed conservator Fred Shafer to use his veto power to override the board’s vote and impose the RIF anyway.

“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,” Shafer said. “Now you’re wanting 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 the board’s decision.”

Karen Dooley, a human resources administrator from Georgetown ISD hired by finance consultant Bill Lenhart to assist with the RIF, said she personally applied certain criteria to the RIF list of educators but wants to keep as many educators employed as possible. While she works on a RIF list to provide to any incoming Board of Managers, she is also working to get educators names in the RIF into open positions throughout the district to alleviate those vacancies with a new school year quickly approaching.

“I don’t think you need to rush into anything,” Dooley said. “You just need to take it step by step by step. Just so you’re doing it in a manner that’s productive and you’re leaving people with their dignity in the process because this isn’t about hurting people. It’s about trying to do what’s best for this district during this financial crisis.”

Dooley said BISD employees should look for notifications about job position openings in the their district e-mail in the coming days.

“The goal is to keep as many people employed as possible,” she said.