The Richland Springs Board of Trustees met in regular session on Monday, March 23, making decisions, although hard, that they hope are in the best interest of the District school children.
The board heard questions from district resident J.D. Smith, who inquired about the financial condition of the district. Smith said he was reacting after reading an article that painted a serious picture for RSISD finances. He questioned the board and administration about funding for athletics and asked what portion of the budget supported athletics.
The board discussed the proposed 2009-2010 calendar, which will be considered for adoption in April.
The boards went into closed session to consider Superintendent Travis Winn's evaluation to discuss teacher contracts, and to talk about extended contracts for Coach Burkhart, Principal Don Fowler, and Superintendent Winn.
The board conducted the superintendent's evaluation which was very positive, with praise from the board for the work Winn has done for the past five years. The board asked Winn to renew his efforts in keeping the board informed about current school issues.
The board then voted to extend Fowler and Burkhart's contract for another year, affording them a two year contract. The board declined to extend Winn's contract on a 6-1 vote.
Board president Barry Fikes stated that the decision to not extend Winn's contract was made after much thought and discussion. Fikes stated that the board has made a commitment to reduce costs, and the possibility of combining administrative positions to one position, was an option that they need to have.
The board then made the decision not to offer contracts to Angela Schultz, who teaches Spanish, and Darrin Hogue, who is a math teacher at Richland Springs. The two probationary teachers will finish the school year.
President Fikes stated that denying contracts and terminating employees is very hard, but the Richland Springs Board has made a commitment to keep the district financially viable and they considered the cuts necessary. Fikes also said that after the present cuts and a few more anticipated cuts, the district hopes to immediately shave approximately $181,000 out of next year's budget. The district lost about $222,000 (37 students x $6,000 allocation) when student enrollment dropped 37 students from last year to this year.
Fikes also said that the upcoming bond election is critical to the school's financial future. The cafeteria, built with a lease-purchase agreement, has been charged to the operating budget of the school for four years, and needs to be paid by tax dollars. If the bond passes, approximately $57,000 would be available for instruction.
Fikes added that he and the remaining board members have made a commitment to Richland Springs ISD's future and they will do whatever is necessary to ensure the school continues to operate.
In closing, President Fikes said that the future of Richland Springs Schools is in the hands of the voters and taxpayers. The loss of students cannot be overcome without an influx of new money (or new students) and that the money to keep the school open must come from the tax collections.