Leander ISD working to cut costs, consolidate jobs


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist PETER HULL


Posted on January 31, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 31 at 8:40 PM

LEANDER, Texas -- Leander is facing what many independent school districts in the state are dealing with right now: a funding shortage.

A few years ago, the state cut $22 million from Leander ISD's budget.  Lawmakers gave back about $4.5 million in the last session, but it's not enough to keep a funding crisis at bay.

Reed Elementary is just one example of the problem. The district built it in 2011, but never opened it, saying it would cost too much. But that's about to change.

After a three-year hiatus, Reed Elementary will finally open its doors for the 2014-2015 school year.  Keeping the campus closed cut costs. For each year the school remained shut down, the district saved $600,000.

“If you're at a campus that's already open, and you have to bring on more portable buildings, is that going to cost you more than it will to open a new building?” said Veronica Sopher, spokesperson for LISD.   

Now with hundreds of new students expected to move there in the next few years, the district says it became clear keeping Reed Elementary closed is no longer an option.

LISD is moving ahead with phase two of its plan to cut spending. It’s consolidating certain teachers' jobs.  

In elementary school, there's an art teacher, a music teacher and a theater teacher.  This next school year, one of those educators will have to teach two subjects. For example, the music teacher will also teach theater.

The remaining teacher will be able to move into other available jobs and apply for other positions in the district.

These reductions are happening on the elementary, middle and high school levels. Some central office employees will be moved around as well. But it's going to look different at each campus.

“Each campus has its own culture,” said Sopher. “They've got their own areas of focus, so it's going to be an adjustment, but it won't be something that's broad, and that's completely and totally the elimination of a particular program or idea.”