AISD discusses budget and deficit issues

AISD Superintendent Becky McCutchen

Alpine ISD Board of Trustees held its regular meeting via Zoom videoconference on June 30.

The meeting began with a public hearing for review of proposed budgets by CFO Tucker Durham. Vice President Mary McCallister, Secretary Justin Cross, and Joe Portillo were absent from the meeting.

Durham discussed the school district’s $600,000 deficit, stating there were several factors to account for the large shortage. Durham noted the board approved purchase of band uniforms at a cost of $100,000 that were not processed in a timely manner due to the coronavirus closures. The purchase thus had to be factored into the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.

Further, due to coronavirus concerns, Durham also budgeted monies for a disinfecting contract that would cost $32,000-33,000, and the provider would be spraying all district facilities three times a year.

Durham expected the district to receive some grants that would supplement the budget, and added, “We are looking at a $150,000-200,000 deficit, depending on our average daily enrollment.”  

The four trustees also approved a bid for purchase of a district-wide active shooter alarm system from Rockwall-based Red Line Integration at a cost of $50,000. Durham said the district was awarded a grant that would pay for half the amount, and he had budgeted the remaining $25,000.

In other news, Superintendent Becky McCutchen provided an overview of the Region 18 Safety and Security Audit completed in October 2019. An independent auditor examines all the district’s facilities, and it is required every three years. The district must also implement a multi hazard plan to comply with fire and safety codes.

The audit indicated the district was well maintained overall and safety requirements were met, but it also provided recommendations on how the district could improve, especially at the high school. Some of the issues at the high school dealt with fire safety codes such as electrical cords and paper decorations in the hallways and doors.

McCutchen said there was a hazard mitigation plan at the middle school due to its proximity to the railroad.

Finally, the safety audit included reviewing and updating improvement plans to include strategies for addressing bullying, suicide prevention, and drug and alcohol abuse. McCutchen said she would meet with the teachers to implement a plan to address those issues, and the district would install drug-free and alcohol-free signs, along with emergency evacuation plans. McCutchen later told the Avalanche that district-wide accountability ratings were waived this year by the Texas Education Agency because of the coronavirus closures, as there was no statewide assessment. Last year’s ratings will remain in place for this year.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, July 15 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom video conference.

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