With the 82nd Legislature in Austin debating how to fill a $27 billion budget shortfall, the board is also considering a tax ratification election.
“Public education is the largest slice of the state’s budget pie and all public schools have been warned to expect painful and historic cuts in funding,” Superintendent Jack Gaskins told the Lions Club Tuesday at city hall.
RISD has notified one administrator, eight teachers and three non-teaching employees that their positions are being eliminated. The superintendent expects the school to suffer anywhere from a 7 to 23 percent loss in state revenue.
“This is a real disaster for public education and health and human services, which will take the biggest hits,” Gaskins said.
With a mid-April deadline looming for schools to solidify or dissolve employee contracts and the state budget not expected until mid-June, the RISD board must decide how deep the cuts must be to find $1.8 million to maintain the current budget.
With 66.5 percent of the school’s budget paid to salaries, the superintendent said we have “no choice” but to cut jobs and eliminate programs. Although Gaskins said the board did not want to resort to more taxes, the board is studying a tax ratification election to come up with the expected $500,000 shortfall in the upcoming budget.
Dr. J.Tim Rainey asked the superintendent about the possibility of collecting taxes on the 800 miles of pipelines running through the county.
“No one seems to be able to answer my question,” Rainey said. “Is there any reason they can’t be taxed?”
Lions member Gerald Morgan said he believes the companies who own the pipelines are immune from local taxes because they are taxed at the state level.