By the Ledger: Efficient solutions found to retain staff

Because of a decision by the Texas Legislature, Bryan ISD will lose about $5.8 million dollars in state funding for the Fiscal Year 2012. “By the Ledger” is a series of articles that focuses on the impact such budget cuts have had on Bryan High.

Because one of the highest expenses for a school district is staffing, an area that schools and districts cut down on is in personnel. Although staff layoffs have been avoided, fewer personnel are on Bryan ISD payrolls this year.

One manner by which layoffs are being avoided, while still cutting down the number of staff, is through not rehiring teachers who left the district last year or retired.

“We’ve done a really good job of pairing down the staff over the last four to five years. If we’d lose three people, we’d only hire two,” English Department Chair Lisa Prejean said. “We made sure we didn’t hire anybody extra. I don’t think we were as hurt by the cuts because there was preparation. ”

Administrators have also looked elsewhere for funding to rehire teachers and fill new positions.

“We lost three teachers last year and I didn’t get to hire any new ones,” Math Department Chair Jill Morris said. “But, I just hired two new ones through a grant.”

TAP, Teacher Advancement Program, and TTIPS, Texas Title I Priority School, are two grants that began this year and have provided much of the funds to hire new teachers and specialists.

“The TAP grant is 750,000 over the next five years. It’s allowed us to hire teachers, but it’s also allowed us to give teachers incentive pay for high achievement and hard work,” Principal Diana Werner said. “With TTIPS, we’ve been funded for two years at 1.8 million at each year. With 1.8 million dollars, I’ve been able to hire another counselor. I’ve hired three teachers, a project director, a secretary and a data-entry person and we’ve been able to buy new technology for the students.”

Although many efforts are made to hire new teachers and specialists, not all positions can be refilled, which often leads to larger class sizes, Morris said.

“We’re all teaching bigger classes,” Morris said. “My geometry class has 34 kids in it, my Pre-Cal class has 33 now, but it started out with 36.”

In addition to teaching personnel, many changes were made to auxiliary staffing, including a reorganization of custodial workers and librarians.

This year, there are three library assistants and Bryan High shares a certified librarian with Rudder. In addition, there are new procedures in place for custodians to maximize the time they spend on campus.

As the school continues to work toward reducing the budget further, Werner said that the impact felt by students has been minimized from many of the new reorganizations and grants that the school has been able to implement.