Alpine ISD talks deficit and budget concerns

Alpine ISD Chief Financial Officer Tucker Durham pauses for a photo at the high school library during the Board of Trustees meeting on June 10. 

Alpine ISD Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled meeting on June 10, and heard an announcement from district Chief Financial Officer Tucker Durham about a $500,000 deficit.  Durham indicated the deficit would have to come out of the general fund balance to make up the difference. He later told the Avalanche that the deficit was due to several factors, namely, annual salary increase percentages for district employees, rising expenditures, and a falling average daily enrollment.

Said Durham, “Revenue is based on student enrollment - the average daily attendance. The lower ADA you have, the less revenues you receive a year. We do not necessarily have a sustainable plan right now, just because there are too many unknowns. After we better understand how the Texas Education Bill is going to play out for this year, and our ADA concerns, then we are better equipped to go in and start learning a strategic plan to get back on track.”

In other business, Les Burke, architect with Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper, presented an update on the entire re-bidding project for Alpine High School. Burke announced that there were several key professionals working on the project in the areas of landscape, architecture, mechanical, electrical, and more, to reduce the scope and square footage.

Burke said that the goal was to rework all the drawings and specifications, then submit them to Lee Lewis Construction. Furthermore, the bids would be due three weeks after that, around July 9-15. It would take another three weeks after that to review all the bids.

Board President Eddie Natera expressed disappointment at the previous bidding process, and asked Burke if there would be any more surprises like the PSC announcement that the bids were over the budget.

Burke answered, “I am not in control of who bids what, but we have reduced the scope significantly.”

Superintendent Becky McCutchen asked Burke about the HVAC installation at the middle school gym, and Burke said that project would also be submitted to Lee Lewis along with the rest of the drawings. Trustees then approved the final change orders for the elementary drive project, but not the bus barn.

Durham later said many difficulties arose from the bus barn project, and there would be a meeting with Lee Lewis himself to discuss some of those concerns, and move forward from there. The Board then moved to postpone the change orders for the bus barn close out.

Finally, McCutchen and the trustees discussed issues with the upcoming school year calendar, which is subject to change due to coronavirus closures. She also expressed concern with declining student enrollment for the fall semester, as only 70% of students planned on returning per a survey sent out in the spring during the initial COVID-19 closure.

The next regularly scheduled Alpine ISD Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, June 24 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

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